Spotting Wildlife on Fire Island

Fire Island is home to many different species of wildlife and there are many opportunities to catch glimpses of the majestic animals that are indigenous to the area. In addition to the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean, there are many other beautiful and natural treasures to see on Fire Island.

Whether you are looking out the window of your home on the beach or hiking through Sunken Forest, you are sure to see wildlife.  Whether it is a sea plover hopping along the shore, a seagull diving into the icy surf, or a white tailed deer hiding in the brush of the dunes, the wild life on Fire Island is abundant. The white tailed deer is the largest and most visible animal on Fire Island. Their numbers have increased dramatically over the past few decades and deer can be seen in almost every location on Fire Island.

Spotting Wildlife on Fire IslandEarly morning hikers or folks taking a sunset stroll on the beach may catch a glimpse of a red fox. These fiery colored foxes usually dig their dens at the base of the dunes and venture out in the early morning and evening to look for food.  They are carnivores and feed on fish and small rodents like the meadow vole.  The meadow vole (which looks similar to a large mouse) is also indigenous to the area and is one of Fire Island’s most common small mammals.  You may see them rustling through the leaves of Sunken Forest or running between the bushes of the dunes.  Gray squirrels, eastern cottontail rabbits and long-tailed weasels also make their home in the Sunken Forest and other parts of the island.

According to, in the winter months you may be lucky enough to see some seals sunning themselves on the shore as harbor seals are regular winter visitors at both Fire Island inlets.

As far as reptiles go, the box turtle is most often spotted on the forest floor, rustling on the dried leaves as it moves about. Because its shell is expertly camouflaged, it is not always that easy to spot. Five species of sea turtles have been documented around Fire Island, although none of them nest in the area. Toads, small snakes and bullfrogs are among the amphibians that can be spotted in bogs and wooded areas.  Of course, numerous species of fish and water mammals have been recorded in the waters around Fire Island, but you may not be able to see them on a hike or from the window of your home.

Fire Island plays host to a wide variety of both migratory and resident bird species. The island’s rich mosaic of forest, dune, and marsh habitats offers feeding and nesting opportunities for a wide array of shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, and waders. More than 330 species of birds have been recorded on Fire Island and it is one of the best birding locations in the New York area, particularly during the spring and fall migrations.

When you are out observing all the natural beauty that Fire Island has to offer, remember to always maintain a safe distance from all animals and resist the temptation to touch or feed any wildlife. Not only is feeding wildlife unsafe for both wildlife and park visitors, it is illegal.

If you are interested in renting or purchasing a home on Fire Island, contact Fire Island Properties at 631-597-7000.

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