Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge
Driving out to eastern Long Island on a weekend during the Summer would be considered crazy by some. Well, keeping 4 kids’ from being bored can be quite a challenge if they are in the house or going to the same playground again and again. So off we went Sunday to the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge, a 187-acre peninsula on Noyack and Little Peconic Bays.
There are a variety of intriguing and fun adventures to experience at Morton; this includes feeding birds by hand, getting a peek at Wild Turkey sneaking into the high grass with their babies, playing on the beach, watching ducks and other waterfowl in the ponds and much, much more. There are manicured trails to hike and wood bridges to cross and too many bird types to mention all of them.
It was a hike out to Sag Harbor, but we packed wraps, veggies, snacks and lots of drinks so we were full of energy and ready to go!
Sandy and rocky beaches fringe the peninsula, while wooded bluffs overlook the Bays. Morton consists of upland forest, fields, ponds, salt marsh, beach and a lagoon. We saw many Wild Turkeys, including a mama, daddy and about 5 babies migrating from the deep woods into the high grass near the salt marsh. So we ate low-sodium turkey in the car, then we observed Turkey at the refuge. Sorry guys 😦
While you are waiting on songbirds to swoon down and take some food from your hand, eastern Chipmunks will scurry up and try to get some fallen crumbs by your feet. You will find Black-Capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, Robin, Cardinal and many more bird species hungry for a snack. Just be patient and hold you hand flat and away from your body. You may even see a Hawk (see below)..
From Brandon, 10: Some birds climbed down from a tree. It took them a little while to trust us for the food. After awhile they just jumped onto our hands. I got like 5 or 6 birds. Last time I got 12!
Morton National Wildlife Refuge was fun in the early Spring as well. Here’s Alana counting her sunflower seeds. She fed a few birds later on. She wasn’t as lucky on Sunday. We’ll be back…
Sofia feeding a Black-Capped Chickadee below. This pic was featured in Newsday newspaper the following Sunday (she’s a cutie)
Sofia, 7: When the bird touches your hand it feels really weird and it tickles when he takes the food. I was able to feed birds 8 times the first time we went there this year!
You may also see white-tailed deer, painted turtles, green frogs and osprey. Waterfowl, such as long-tailed duck, common goldeneye and white-winged scoter, are common during the winter months, while piping plover, terns, and other water birds use the beach during the spring and summer months.
Brandon, 10: When we were walking down a path we saw a bunch of ducks swimming around a pond. It looked like there was green moss all over the pond but in some parts it was just clear water. If you looked down you could see little turtle heads popping up over the water.
Brandon, 10: When we were looking at the ducks i looked down and saw something move and i saw a frog camouflaged in the pond. Wassup!?!?!
Alana, 5: I liked when we went to the pond and there was 1 little frog and he was staring at us! And we asked this man who knew a lot about turtles if we could throw seeds in the pond.
Just like all our quests, Mia has tons of energy and we are always chasing after her. She outlasts the older kids usually, but she needed a nap and Brandon came to the rescue!
As we walked along a trail, we saw a hawk high up in a tree being harassed by a group of Robins. We saw a large amount of feathers under the tree and some friends we made said they believed the Hawk attacked a fellow Robin just before we caught up to it. The hawk had his head tucked in and was just chilling out while the Robins were going crazy. 30 minutes later, on the way back from the beach, we found the Hawk much closer to the front of the Refuge in another tree, once again surrounded by those Robins.
Sofia, 7: “Behind the hawk there was like feathers of another bird. They were white and black. It looked like he beat that other bird up. There were a lot of birds all around the hawk. Maybe it is because that other bird was their family and maybe they were upset.”
We saw so many varieties of songbirds and the kids had fun but also had questions that we can go get answers online. Education during the non-school months!
It was cloudy this day but we still had fun playing in the sand. This view is overlooking Little Peconic Bay.
Alana, 5: I played with Mia making sandcastles and I saw water that was pretty!
We really had a great time at the Refuge, same as the first time we went. It was exciting as an adult to see the Wild Turkey family, the encounter with the Hawk and even the 1st visit when songbirds ate from my hand. But when on these quests with the kids I feel like a kid too 🙂
Brandon, 10: I liked seeing the Wild Turkeys because I don’t normally see them. Their babies were so small! All these birds all of a sudden flew down to this bridge we were on and started hopping and flying over to us. Some Wild Turkeys were just sitting next to the bridge and there were soooo many chipmunks trying to get food from us! One of them got it from Mia, because she kept dropping her seeds by mistake (we think)…
No pets. Apply bug spray or use a repellent bracelet during Spring/Summer. Stay on the trail to avoid poison ivy and ticks. Wear a hat and check for ticks when you get back to your car. Restrooms are located at the Visitor Contact Station at the start of the trail.
Please only bring bird feed; natural sunflower seeds, etc..Don’t bring bread or other food. That will attract more birds, which is great for you, but unfortunately can cause health risks to the waterfowl and birds. Thanks for following this.
Admission and Hours: An entrance fee is charged, which helps to protect wildlife habitat and maintain refuge trails and facilities. Please bring cash.
- Vehicle – $4.00
- Pedestrian/bicycle – $2.00
- Annual Refuge Pass (valid for 12 months from the month of purchase) – $12.00
Open 1/2 before sunrise – 1/2 after after sunset.
From Sunrise Hwy. (27E), turn left (North) onto North Sea Road (CR 38). Go approximately 1.5 miles (at stop light veer left). Turn right onto Noyack Road. Go approximately five miles. Refuge entrance is on the left.
2595 Noyack Road
Sag Harbor, NY 11963
(631) 725-7598 – Visitor Contact Station at the refuge
(631) 286-0485 – Headquarters in Shirley, NY
For high resolution versions of these photos and additional pics of Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge, please follow this link to the associated photo set on Flickr:
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