SOCIAL MEDIA

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Life: Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Sag Harbor, NY

The Long Island birding boards are constantly talking about a local bird sanctuary on eastern Long Island called the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge (link).  While we have several local nature preserves and wildlife refuges, this one stands out to birders for several reasons.

1.  It's the home to nesting shorebirds such as the endangered and very cute piping plover.
2.  Wild birds have become accustomed to eating seeds from people's hands.
3.  It's home to Jessup's Neck which is a stopping place for many different migrating birds.

While I'm sure that there are many more reasons that birders love this spot, they had me sold with piping plovers and hand feeding birds!  Almost immediately I started annoying begging my husband to take us on a drive out east to spend a day.  It took a couple of months, but he finally agreed.  For the record, he's already planning a 2nd trip without any instigation from me!


bird sanctuary out east in sag harbor long island new york

The Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is located in Noyak, NY which is basically Sag Harbor.  This upscale, boating community is gorgeous but located so far out east that it's near the end of the island.  The park's location is probably the reason that it's not as popular as it should be.  It could take Long Islanders up to 2-1/2 hours to get to depending on how far west they live.  Ladies and gentleman, don't let the drive discourage you!  It was totally worth the trip.


Almost immediately upon entering the park, a tufted titmouse started chirping at my husband.  He lifted up his hand with a fistful of 100% black oil sunflower seeds (link).  The tufted titmouse flew right to his hand, grabbed a seed, and then flew to a nearby tree to eat it.  That same bird kept us entertained for quite a while grabbing food from our hands.  Well, not mine.  I was too chicken.  This unique experience is one that we will remember forever.

I got lucky and snapped the below picture of my daughter.  It is a shot of the first time the tufted titmouse ate from her hand.  Just look at that face!

bird sanctuary out east in sag harbor long island new york

We walked the full trail and saw lots of birds along the way.  In addition to the smaller songbirds that we were able to interact with mostly tufted titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches, there were lots of other birds including a GIGANTIC wild turkey to observe and enjoy.  There was other wildlife as well including chipmunks and squirrels.  Signs were posted in several places asking guests to report any sightings of sea turtles.  Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see any sea turtles but it was cool to know that they were there.

At the end of the 3/4 mile loop through the woods, you end at the gorgeous Jessup's Neck beach area.  While most of the beach was closed to protect the nesting shorebirds, there was plenty of beach to rest and relax.  We were not prepared to hang out at the beach, so we stayed on the small wooden boardwalk and enjoyed looking through the binoculars they had there.  The land is so thin that in one look you can see the ocean on one side and the bay on the other.

The area of the beach that was gated is where the piping plovers live.  As hopeful as I was to seeing one, all I saw was two seagulls and an osprey.  While I was mildly disappointed, I reminded myself that was an excuse to come back again!  With the number of signs and gates from the look out point pictured below, one would imagine this is the place to observe a piping plover.

bird sanctuary out east in sag harbor long island new york

The information that we found online was very limited, so I figured I'd list a few things that would be helpful to new visitors.

1.  Although small, there is a parking fee.  It's $4 for the day or $12 for an annual pass.
2.  They DO NOT sell bird seed onsite.  Be prepared with your own bird seed (link).
3.  There are portable toilets onsite, but no formal restrooms.  In other words, go before go and bring hand sanitizer!
4.  The beach is gorgeous.  For a double fun day, come prepared to hike and beach bum it up.
5.  Sag Harbor is a beautiful boating community with some of the best seafood.  Before you go, do some research and end your day with a delicious meal at a casual, outdoor, waterfront dining spot!

Has a wild bird ever landed on your hand?


Orbitz

11 comments :

  1. We usually have a couple of turtle doves living in our street and also a couple of blackbirds which I call Smilyka and Kovilyka, but they are a couple no more as my freaking cat ate one of them. They were very friendly and liked to hang around in our yard very close to me, not afraid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG! I didn't expect you to say that your cat ate one of them. How very sad! Did you get any new birdie friends? Maybe you need to put out some sunflower seeds. :)

      Delete
  2. Our city’s metropark has a nature center where you can hand feed chickadees, but I’ve never been interested in it! I don’t want a dirty bird on me……LOL! But I’d still visit that refuge because it looks so pretty. And I’ve read books that take place in Sag Harbor. Sounds like a beautiful place. I’m surprised it takes you so long to get there. Is it due to traffic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What books have you read? I love reading stories that take place on Long Island! I'm with you on the dirty birds. The kids and my husband did it while I happily played photographer. The traffic here is just incomprehensible. You have to be in it to fully understand it. Just ask Pat!

      Delete
    2. Well, Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor is the first one that comes to mind! Lol!

      Delete
  3. It totally sounds worth the drive! I think I'd be too chicken to hand feed birds myself. Though both of my girls had pigeons swarming them outside of Notre Dame in Paris because someone was passing out birdseed. Great capture of your daughter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, pigeons? Those are big birds. These were little songbirds so they may love it even more.

      Delete
    2. They are huge! You can see my daughter's encounter with them at the bottom of this post. She was a lot braver than I was! https://www.theresasmixednuts.com/2019/02/notre-dame-cathedral-paris.html

      Delete
  4. I don't trust birds so I hope they keep away from me

    ReplyDelete

Spread a smile with a comment!