Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex
|Description: Five sites of the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex are open to the public: Amagansett, Elizabeth A. Morton, Oyster Bay, Target Rock, and Wertheim. These areas are prime stopovers for migrating raptors, shorebirds, and songbirds.|
Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge on Long Island’s south fork is a 36-acre unit with beach, swales, fens, cranberry bogs and oak scrub.
Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is located on Long Island’s south fork. Most of this 187-acre site is a peninsula jutting into Noyack and Little Peconic bays. Habitats include beach, pond, bog, tidal flat, salt and freshwater marsh, shrub, grassland and maritime forest.
Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, on the north shore of eastern Nassau County, is accessible by boat only. This 3,209-acre area includes bay, salt marsh and freshwater wetlands habitats. It is especially important for wintering waterfowl and a variety of waterbirds. Turtles, seals, finfish and shellfish are also common here.
Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge is 80 acres on the Lloyd Neck Peninsula of Long Island’s north shore. Mature oak-hickory forest and the rocky beach support a variety of songbirds (particularly warblers), shorebirds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge is 2,550 acres bisected by the Carmans River on Long Island’s south shore. Oak-pine woodlands, grasslands and fresh, brackish and saltwater wetlands attract many kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Wildlife to Watch: At Amagansett, see merlins, Cooper’s hawks, American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and peregrine falcons during spring and fall migrations. In late spring and summer, the beach hosts endangered piping plovers and the more common willets, sanderlings and other shorebirds and terns. Eastern hognose
snakes, a species of special concern, can also be seen here. Long-tailed ducks, white-winged scoters, common loons, horned grebes, Ipswich sparrows, rough-legged hawks and short-eared owls overwinter here.
At Elizabeth A. Morton, see white-tailed deer, eastern chipmunks, painted turtles, green frogs, songbirds and ospreys in the warmer months. Long-tailed ducks, common goldeneyes, white-winged scoters and black ducks are common in winter. Waters surrounding the refuge are critical habitat for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and are occasionally used by loggerhead sea turtles.The beach
attracts endangered piping plovers, as well as roseate and least terns.
At Oyster Bay, abundant fish and shellfish support a complex food web linking waterfowl, fish-eating birds, and marine mammals. Harbor seals, sea turtles and diamondback terrapins are commonly seen. Wintering waterfowl include black ducks, greater scaup, bufflehead, canvasback and long-tailed ducks. Ospreys, egrets, herons, terns and cormorants are also found here.
Target Rock hosts a variety of warblers, shorebirds and waterfowl during spring and fall migration. The refuge provides nesting habitat for bank swallows and shorebirds like the piping plover. During the colder months, diving
ducks are common offshore, while harbor seals occasionally rest on the beach and nearby rocks.
Wertheim was established to protect the Carmans River estuary for migratory birds. Ospreys, hawks, owls, pine warblers, wood and black ducks, mergansers, buffleheads, great egrets, green and great blue herons and kingfishers are among the approximately 300 species of birds that have been seen here. Mammals include white-tailed deer, muskrats, foxes and weasels. Butterflies, frogs and painted turtles abound near water, and eastern box turtles are found upland.
Special Tips: Headquarters/visitors center located at Wertheim. From April
through August, some beaches are closed to the public to protect breeding birds. Fishing is allowed at Target Rock from the shore and at Wertheim by boat only. Hunting is allowed at Wertheim in season; special rules apply. There may be entrance fees at some locations. See website or call for more information.
Other Activities: Amagansett: Enjoy a walk on the beach for wildlife watching. (Dunes closed
Elizabeth A. Morton: A nature trail passes through upland areas and onto the
beach. You can follow the peninsula for almost 2 miles, travel an upland trail
or visit a brackish pond.
Oyster Bay: Observe wildlife from a canoe or kayak at this refuge of mostly
ponds and marshes.
Target Rock: The nature trail winds through hardwood forest, past seasonal
ponds and along the shore of Huntington Bay to an overlook.
Wertheim: There are trails through the refuge’s different habitats. A trip down
the Carmans River by boat offers increased opportunity to see the estuary’s
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size: 6,500 acres
Closest Town: Shirley
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: