What’s Blooming on Long Island


Delaney Hallahan

Geese strolling the beaches of Lake Ronkonkoma

Delaney Hallahan, Managing Editor

While Long Islanders are getting their T-shirts and shorts out, our local wildlife is also coming out to play this Spring. From critters as small as mice scampering across your backyard to beautiful deer you may drive past, you’re sure to find some of Long Island’s beautiful flora and fauna this spring and the Compass is here to show you where to find them and who you’ll meet.

  1. Animals

First, on our list, we have to mention the mammals of Long Island. Most of these creatures are very quiet so you should keep an eye out when you explore to hopefully witness one in your presence. Of course, we have to mention the gentle white-tailed deer, whether you catch a glimpse of them in the woods or on the way to work on the side of the highway these animals are always a fun sight to see. Don’t forget to be aware of deer crossing signs while driving since they do love to roam the edge of major highways. We also want to call attention to the silent critters of our neighborhoods like the eastern gray squirrel, eastern cottontail, and eastern chipmunk. The most common of these three little friends are eastern gray squirrels, you can find them in your backyard and all over the island and not just in the spring and summer seasons! As for the cottontails and chipmunks, it may be a bit harder to find them but they can be found in woodlands. Deer mice can be found mostly in rural areas but every once in a while you can catch them in sheds and around your backyard. Some rare animals that have found themselves on the island recently are red foxes and coyotes. Coyotes were once native to Long Island but they were driven off the island when people started to build up towns and neighborhoods, however, they have been spotted on the island in the past year! Let’s hope they find their way back home here on the Island. And last but not least is bats! Growing up on the island it was always a surreal experience when bats would fly overhead. The little brown bat (yes that is really its name!) and the eastern red bat are the most common type of bats you will find on the island, or should I say- above the island. They, of course, fly at night around the edges of trees to hunt for bugs.

  1. Birds

Speaking of our flying friends, Long Island has a plethora of beautiful and diverse birds! Of course, the most common bird you will come across this spring and summer is the Canada goose, these large birds are all over the island as they might waddle across streets near bodies of water and beaches. You know one is nearby when you hear their call or even step in what they left behind… gross. Osprey might be confused for hawks since they have a strong resemblance to them, you can also find them gliding above bodies of water and beaches along with European Herring Gulls. You will be able to hear the European Herring Gull call when you approach towns near the Long Island Sound. Along with other beach birds, you can see Chimney swifts, also known as “Flying Cigars”, Piping Plovers, and Mute Swans. Piping Plovers can be found all over Long Island Beaches since that is where they nest, unfortunately, they have been classified as endangered since the 1980s. Due to their endangerment, please let them be if you see them on the beach. Mute swans are also another species you should leave alone in their own habitat due to their occasional aggressive behavior. On the National Park Service website (nps.gov), it is said that “The island’s rich mosaic of forest, dune, and marsh habitats offer feeding and nesting opportunities for a wide array of shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, and waders.” so you will be spotting birds wherever you go on the island!

  1. Bugs

Next is my favorite category… insects! Though it may not be everyone’s favorite creature on the island, we wanted to include as many critters as possible from the island on this list. But do not worry, we will be focusing on friendly and beautiful crawlers. In the “beautiful” category is the Scarlet Bluet, Little Bluet, and Pine Barrens Bluet, these are dragonflies with vivid coloring on their body and crystal clear wings. They can be found near ponds, swamps, and marshes. Those small and delicate butterflies you may have chased in fields are known as Pieridae butterflies, a family of butterflies including dainty sulfurs and cabbage whites. Such lovely butterflies can be found fluttering in meadows or large grassy areas. Another gorgeous butterfly can be found are pipevine swallowtails, the black on the tips of their wings melt into a deep blue on the bottom, some display orange spots and some white. Swallowtails are known to fly near forests. As for the butterflies’ lesser appreciated “cousin”, there are some interesting moths across our island! One of my absolute favorites are Cecropia Moths, they are one of the largest moths found in the United States. A mix of black, brown, and bright red/orange patterns are spread across their 7-inch wingspan. Cecropia Moths can be a bit of a rare find but they have been spotted on the island in late spring into the summer since that is when they emerge from their cocoons. Other Moths that can be found are frosted elfins, they are much smaller than the Cecropia but just as interesting and fun to chase around in the moonlight. The last insect we had to touch on are Deer Ticks, beware of them if you are traveling through forests while exploring, they can be found all over the island specifically in tall grass, shrubs, and bushes. Try to wear full coverage on your legs like long socks, long pants, close-toed shoes and always wear bug spray! Once you leave a wooded area, check for signs of ticks such as itching and a bullseye-like rash.

  1. Locations

Finally is the last category on our list, locations to visit! If you are looking for an adventure this spring and summer, stop by a park, nature reserve or lake! Long Island has too many beautiful places to name in just one list but we will leave you with a few to stop by on a sunny day. Caleb Smith Park located in Smithtown is one of four beautiful nature reserves on the island. There is a museum and visitor center to learn more about wildlife in the parks and of course hiking trails and a freshwater pond (check out the NYS Parks website for more information on hours and programs: parks.ny.gov/parks/calebsmith). Another place that is a wonderful spot for a day trip is Fire Island, between the beach, wildlife, and the iconic Fire Island Light House you are sure to have a fun-filled day. On the National Park Service Website (nps.gov) it is mentioned that “More than 330 species of birds have been recorded on Fire Island, more than 1/3 of all species found in North America”, so if you are interested in the birds on this list and more, you might have the chance to spot them there! Lastly, we have to mention Sunken Meadow State Park, the gorgeous beach viewing the long island sound and picnic parks make for the perfect spot for a family day out. And of course, we cannot forget their hiking grounds and playing fields.


Although these beautiful locations are usually open to public access, it is very important to respect our wildlife and their habitats. Be sure to leave places exactly, if not, better than how you found them. Pay attention to any signs or markings along trails and entrances, many locations have specific rules to follow during your visit such as park hours, whether dogs can tag along for your visit, and even safety precautions. We want to preserve our parks for our future friends to visit as well as the wildlife who call these places their homes.