Noyac Road Not As Abundant With Songbirds - 27 East

Noyac Road Not As Abundant With Songbirds

Number of images 3 Photos


Oriole fledge yelling at mom.   TERRY SULLIVAN

Oriole fledge yelling at mom. TERRY SULLIVAN

A fledgling and an American robin..   TERRY SULLIVAN

A fledgling and an American robin.. TERRY SULLIVAN


Nature Naturally

  • Publication: East Hampton Press
  • Published on: Sep 20, 2023
  • Columnist: Larry Penny

Noyac Road, connecting downtown Sag Harbor with North Sea Road 11 miles or so to the west , goes past my Noyac house. It is the road I take most often in the 40 years I’ve been living here. During that span I have recorded every mammal and bird observed and identified during each trip. The road has as much two-way traffic as County Road 39 but is left out of most traffic improvement considerations by both Suffolk County and New York State.

The road is beginning to fall apart and will soon need a big deal of work in order to keep it vital. During weekdays, when the work traffic dominates, there are several traffic hours with more than a thousand passing vehicles counted. The traffic has increased yearly until these last few years when it may have finally peaked. The traffic volume has grown, but the number of road kills and observations of live bird and mammals has diminished greatly.

What I think has happened is that the attendant increasingly polluted air and loud noises associated with the vehicle exhausts of the big trucks has driven them away. When we first moved in 40 years ago, there were far fewer big trucks among the vehicles. These days, birds, the few that we have, do all their singing before 7 a.m., and then disappear. Is it the noise? Is it the increase in polluted air? Is it both?

I recently tested my theory out and discovered that the number of birds that sing along Noyac Road after 7 o’clock in the morning decreases, at both the Noyac and North Sea ends accordingly.

It is also very hard to find a road-kill mammal or road-kill bird on Noyac Road these days. Have the birds and mammals gotten wiser? Or are there fewer because of the increasing odors and increasing amounts of toxic gases emanating from all the vehicles? We humans are not at all as sensitive to the latter as the birds and mammals are.

We hear reports about the dwindling number of songbirds nationwide. We wonder if the toxic gases exhausted from the motor vehicles have something to do with it.

On the other hand, Noyac Road is one of the noisiest roads on Long Island and so maybe it’s the noise that’s driving the birds away. It’s the noisiest that I know about. Noise, chemical exhausts, the absence of native mammals. Anything else? Isn’t that enough? Catbird, song sparrow, downy woodpecker, cardinal, robin, Baltimore oriole, grackle, starling, etc., etc., etc. All gone away.

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