VERNAL, Utah — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will hold a viewing event for the common loon, which is set to migrate through Utah this spring on its way to northern breeding grounds for the summer.
There are five species of loons, birds built for diving, sporting, and singing. A migratory population of the second-largest loon, the common loon, passes through the Uintah Basin each year.
“Common loon calls are often what you think of while watching a movie set in the northern territories of Canada,” said Tonya Kieffer-Selby, the northeastern regional outreach manager at Utah DWR. “They have a wailing, yodel-like call that echoes in the wilderness. With their bold black-and-white appearance, they’re a beautiful bird to watch. It’s a rare treat that bird-watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts should know about and take advantage of.”
The viewing event will take place on Saturday, April 15 from 7-10 a.m. on the east side of Steinaker Reservoir in Steinaker State Park, 7 miles north of Vernal in Uintah County.
DWR biologists will be on hand to answer questions and help participants spot loons. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available for use, but the DWR has recommended that you bring your own if you have them.
“This time of year, they start to show up on Big Sand Wash, Flaming Gorge, Steinaker and Red Fleet reservoirs,” Kieffer-Selby said. “The loons are fairly consistent. They usually arrive around the first of April or just after the ice leaves the reservoirs. In the past, biologists have reported seeing more than 200 loons on different reservoirs in the Uintah Basin on a single day. Steinaker Reservoir seems to be one of their hotspots.”
This event is free, however, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite. The state park day-use fee is $10 per vehicle.