Wildlife & Habitat

  • Waterfowl


    Oyster Bay has the greatest winter waterfowl use of any of the Long Island national wildlife refuges. The numbers of waterfowl using Oyster Bay are lowest from May through August, and start to increase in September and October. Puddle ducks such as black ducks, gadwall, and mallards start migrating to the refuge in early autumn, and their diversity begins to increase in November. Waterfowl numbers peak and remain high from December through March, then decline in April.

    The New York Department of State has singled out Oyster Bay as having the greatest concentration of waterfowl on Long Island’s north shore.

    The three waterfowl species that most commonly use the refuge in winter include the greater scaup, bufflehead, and black duck. Those species compose approximately 85 percent of all ducks using the refuge. Greater scaup compose more than half; bufflehead make up 20 percent; and black duck, the most common puddle duck species, close to 10 percent.

    Waterfowl use is not uniform across the refuge. The Bayville, Cold Spring Harbor, and Mill Neck Creek areas support in excess of 80 percent of that use. Bayville alone accounts for nearly half. The majority of the greater scaup and bufflehead on the refuge use its Bayville and Cold Spring Harbor sections, while the Mill Neck Creek section had the greatest use by black duck and canvasback.

  • Northern Diamondback Terrapin

    Diamondback terrapin - USFWS.

    The northern diamondback terrapin is common at Oyster Bay, particularly in the Frost Creek and Mill Neck Creek sections. The refuge is considered to have one of the largest populations of diamondback terrapins on Long Island.

  • Aquatic Habitats

    Salt marsh - Richard Sack.

    Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge consists of 3,204 acres of bay bottom, salt marsh, and a small freshwater wetland. It is managed principally for use by migratory waterfowl and other waterbirds. It is also one of the few bay-bottom refuges owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is located off Long Island Sound, and the sheltered nature of the bay makes it extremely attractive as winter habitat for a variety of waterfowl species, especially diving ducks.

    The State of New York has designated the Oyster Bay area as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. Marine wildlife common to the refuge includes harbor seals, diamondback terrapins, and several species of sea turtles. Shellfish and finfish are abundant at Oyster Bay. The bay supports the only commercial oyster farm aquaculture operation remaining on Long Island, and an estimated 90 percent of the commercial oysters in New York originate from areas associated with the refuge.