The primary mission of the Great South Bay Audubon Society is to advocate for the conservation of habitats for native birds and other native wildlife on Long Island.

Subscribe to the GSBAS Email Newsletter

Sign up for the GSBAS email newsletter to receive notifications
of upcoming events, alerts, notices and other news related to the
community and our organization.

Name:   Email:

Privacy Policy

Young Naturalists Club

Next Meeting: Sunday, December 6, 2015, 1:15 - 2:15 PM, at Brookside County Park:  Details to be announced. For information, please email or call 631-581-1731

About the Young Naturalists Club

Great South Bay Audubon Society (GSBAS) would like to invite the Long Island community and GSBAS Chapter Members to join us on:

Date: The first Sunday of every month

Place: Great South Bay Audubon Society's Headquarters - Brookside County Park, 59 Brook Street, Sayville, NY

Time: T.B.A.

RSVP: RSVPs are encouraged but not required. Please call 631-581-1731 or email:

Activities: The Young Naturalists Club focuses on learning about nature and stewardship of a natural area. Outdoor activities include crafting nature boxes and pinecone feeders, nature scavenger hunts, hiking the trails, gardening, and maintaining bird-feeding stations. Indoor activities include examining birds’ nests and feather displays and special presentations on subjects such as the Northern Bobwhite Quail, local marine creatures, and bird watching. For details on upcoming Young Naturalists Club activities, please email or call 631-581-1731.

From Western/Eastern Long Island:  Sunrise Highway to Locust Avenue South to very end.  Left onto Montauk Highway.  Quick left onto Brook Street, continue 2 miles, past Sayville High School, entrance on left.

There is limited parking at Brookside Park, so please park out front on Brook Street where permitted or in high school parking lot across the street.

Young Naturalists Club - Annual Scavenger Hunt - Sunday, November 1, 2015

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, the GSBAS Young Naturalist Club met at Brookside County Park for their annual Scavenger Hunt. The YNC was joined by members of Girl Scout Troop 2470. The children took pleasure in the warm weather as they collected the many items from the scavenger list. All of the children and the parents enjoyed a hike along the nature trail. To our delight, a heron was observed flying high above the trees along Green's Creek.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "The Who, What and Why about Owls" - Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Young Naturalists Club met at Brookside County Park on Sunday, June 7, 2015. The club members participated in a discussion about Owls. The children were presented very interesting facts about the how the owl finds its prey, about the exceptional vision and placement of the eyes of the owl, the significance of the serrations on the flight feathers of the owl, and why does an owl produce pellets. The children viewed photos of various owls, noting the detail in the eye discs and coloring of the feathers. Long-eared owl wing feathers were passed around allowing the children to experience the softness of the feathers edge. An owl pellet, found near a local kestrel nest box, was carefully looked at, the tiny bird skull, fine bones and other undigested material all capturing the attention of the children. A short quiz was given, with older members, Vanessa and Ryan, reading the questions aloud. The children then created an owl pin using felt, pine cone pieces and googly-eyes!

The day ended with the filling of the bird feeders and a hike along the trail that encompasses the park. For those that quietly followed the trail, a special sighting of a Black Crown Night Heron was a true reward.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "Whose nest is this?" - Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Whose nest is this?" by Janet Gremli

On Sunday, May 3, 2015, the Young Naturalist Club met at Brookside County Park. A special contribution was made by eight year old Vanessa Roe. Vanessa brought along a very compact, delicate bird nest that she had found at the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank. A unique feature of the nest was the horse hair wound gently round the interior to provide protection and warmth for the baby birds. The task at hand was to decipher what bird could have made such a perfect little nest?

Multiple reference guides were retrieved from the Brookside library and everyone began deducing the identity of the avian designer. "It must be a small bird", "Were there horses or a farm nearby", "Is it pocket-like and circular", "Are there grasses or twigs in the nest", "Was it on the ground or in a tree"? These were some of the questions asked during our nest investigation.

Using all the clues provided and location details from Vanessa, it was determined that the nest belonged to a Chipping Sparrow, Spizella Passerina.

Our day ended with a walk through the park with sightings of fiddle-head ferns, skunk cabbage, Canada mayflower, marsh marigold, jonquils and newly emerging poison ivy. Best of all, was a glimpse of a giant snapping turtle soaking up the sunshine on a fallen log in the west pond.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "March is Migration Month" - Sunday, March 1, 2015

"March is Migration Month" by Janet Gremli

Early Spring on Long Island begins the migration of many familiar birds returning to our area. On Sunday, March 1, 2015, the Young Naturalist Club members were given a lesson on those backyard birds that stay for the winter and those that migrate south. The children gathered around in the Brookside library to listen as Miss Juliane read them a story about migrating species. They were amazed to hear about the long distance the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird travels each year, from as far north as Canada down to Central America. The children have seen this visitor in our Butterfly Garden on the Brookside property and look forward to its return.

Why birds migrate, how far they travel and what they eat were discussed. The children were given a map of the Northern Hemisphere noting arrival and departure dates of the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Following their lesson, members assembled around the table and chose a picture of a familiar bird to color. As the snow blew down, muffling the sounds outside and carpeting the grounds, the children were completely absorbed in their task of coloring. Using the beautiful reference books from the Brookside library, and a multitude of colored pencils and crayons, the children were steadfast in embellishing the pictures they chose. Variations in detail by Vanessa, Julianna and Erin could be seen in their renditions of ruby-throated hummingbirds. Josie,Gabby and Joseph chose brilliants reds to illustrate the favored "red bird" or Northern Cardinal. Even three year old Anthony was excited to join in the creativity with scissors, glue and crayons!

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "Beaks, Mouths, Noses and Nares" - Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Beaks, Mouths, Noses and Nares" by Janet Gremli

On Sunday, January 4, 2015, the Young Naturalists Club enjoyed a lesson on beaks, mouths, noses and nares. Do you have a nose? Do you have a mouth? What about birds? Where are their nose and mouth? The children listened as Miss Lois lead the discussion using bird carvings as models. The children learned why the beaks were shaped differently and guessed at the types of foods best suited for the various beaks. Using drawings of bird heads without beaks, the children identified and attached the beak belonging to each bird head. The children then drew their own bird and beak pictures. The new word learned today was NARES.

The six children and six adults then joined in a hike along the trails, collecting litter and seeking birds. It didn't take long before our hike leaders, Elizabeth, Toussaint and Spiro spotted a Great blue heron wading in the shallow waters of Green's Creek. A beautiful sight to see, the stunning bird gracefully parted ways and flew in the direction of the Great South Bay.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "Bird Feeder Fun" - Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Bird Feeder Fun" by Janet Gremli

On Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Young Naturalist Club of the Great South Bay Audubon Society met at Brookside County Park for a fun time with Nature. The children gathered around the large meeting table to create pine cone bird feeders. Charter member Vanessa Roe assisted in demonstrating how the feeders are assembled. Vanessa chose a pinecone and with her sleeves rolled to her elbows, she filled her hands with the "special mixture" and began coating the pinecone. Vanessa deftly rolled the suet covered pinecone in a mixture of black-oiled sun flower seeds, cranberries, cracked corn, Nyjer and thistle. A piece of twine was fastened to the seed-studded pinecone. The finished product was now ready for hanging outside. The other children joined in the fun and the pine cone feeder frenzy began!

Observing the talents of YNC member Toussaint, Jaelynn, one of the youngest attendees,was quick to learn the craft and soon had three feeders fully assembled. Friends Vanessa, Victoria, Josie and Lulianna giggled and chatted while making over a dozen of the pinecone feeders. Siblings Gabby, Victoria and Jojo were cheered on by younger brother Anthony as they worked together on their pine cone feeders. With all of the children "up to their elbows" in suet and seeds, the project was completed.

Our group headed outdoors eager to enjoy the bright sunshine and to see what birds we could find. Volunteer Helga Merryman quickly located white-breasted nuthatches and black-capped chickadees playfully darting among the branches of a nearby oak. The children watched and listened as Helga described the characteristics and features that help to identify each species.

The children then assisted volunteer Lois Goelz as she had them place seed into the several bird feeders in the park. Lois taught the children about which seeds were appropriate for which feeders and what types of birds would be attracted to the seeds. The children gathered enthusiastically, as this is a favorite activity. The older children readily assisted the younger children with pouring the seed into the mesh feeders, taking care not to spill the seed. It didn't take long for the goldfinches, hairy woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches to begin feeding on their favorite seeds. The children were able to observe the lesson they had just learned.

The children ended their day with a hike along the trails, collecting litter and engaging with Nature.

Special thanks to Juliane for preparing the "special mixture."

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "Autumn Splendor" - Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Autumn Splendor" by Janet Gremli

On Sunday, November 2, 2014, the Young Naturalists Club of the Great South Bay Audubon Society met at Brookside County Park in Sayville to enjoy the splendor of Autumn. The children gathered around a large wooden table which was liberally strewn with leaves of oak, maple, sassafras and dogwood, pine needles, acorns, pinecones, bark, and moss. The children were introduced to the variety of shapes, colors and scents that Nature offers. Hard, oval pitch pinecones were compared with the slender, arcing cones of the white pine. Clusters of pine needles were counted to identify whether they were pitch pine or white pine. The gnarly bark of the pine trees was compared to the smoother bark of birch and sycamore. The bright yellow maple leaves, palmate in shape, were held in contrast to the orange and red of the mitten-shaped sassafras and the scarlet of the round-lobed oak leaves. The children then set out on a scavenger hunt to find the various objects of our lesson. Darting across the grass and scurrying along the edge of the woods, the children collected leaves, pine needles, pinecones and acorns. Not certain if they had a sassafras leaf, they remembered to crush the leaf to release the citrus-like aroma for validation. The children filled their paper bags with all of the items on the scavenger list. Returning to our great table, they let the spoils of their search tumble out for closer inspection. Through their newly acquired knowledge and direct observations, the children were able to connect the information they had learned with Nature's Bounty.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - "Pond Life 101" - October 5, 2014

"Pond Life 101"

On Sunday, October 5, 2014, the Young Naturalists Club of the Great South Bay Audubon Society had a special activity awaiting them. Professor Peter Daniel and his lovely wife Lenora gave an exceptional presentation of common aquatic invertebrates. Donning waders, Lenora scooped organic material from the bottom of Green's Creek, along the east side of Brookside County Park. The muck was placed into clear containers for the children to begin their investigation into the unknown. Lo and behold, the children were thrilled to discover a myriad of life forms flitting among the decomposing leaf debris. "I think it is a water strider!" exclaimed Gigi. "No, it looks like a dragonfly nymph," countered Aida. "Over here ! I've got a baby fish!" chimed Toussaint. "Yes, you caught a wide mouthed bass.", Professor Daniel proclaimed. All the children gathered to see the inch long fish darting among the muck and pond water. As if this weren't enough excitement to experience, the children were shown how to carefully collect the aquatic creatures and place them into individual Petri dishes. To their amazement, using the microscopes provided, the children were able to view their catch! Using a laptop attachment, all attendees were able to watch in amazement the beating heart of the bass, the wild flailing of the Caddisfly larva, and the moving body parts of the Backswimmer. The children giggled, squealed and eagerly looked for more creatures to view. Professor Daniel wished all of his lessons were received with such unabashed enthusiasm! A great time was had by all and the YNC is proud to claim many a budding marine biologist among it's members.

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - September 7, 2014

What's All the Buzzzzz?

On Sunday, September 7, 2014, the Young Naturalists Club met at Brookside County Park in Sayville. Children and parents participated in a discussion on Honey Bees, Bumble Bees and Yellow Jackets. A large model of a bumble bee was used to demonstrate the main body parts of a bee. Children were given line drawings of bumble bees, honey bees and yellow jackets and asked to compare and contrast the similarities between the insects. Collected (formerly live) examples of the insects were examined by the children using magnifying glasses.

New words taught to the children were "thorax", "abdomen" and "stinger", the later being the most interesting to the audience! The children were amazed to see the fuzz of the bumble bee and the different colored striping on the honey bees and yellow jackets. They found it interesting to learn that bees sting only once and die, while yellow jackets sting multiple times and live. They learned that not all stings come from bees.

A drawing of a man-made bee hive was used to demonstrate how honey is produced, stored and collected. A frame from a honey chamber was passed among the children. They all enjoyed sniffing the smell of honey and nectar on the frame. Pieces of beeswax and honeycomb were found to be soft and waxy to the touch and smelled good, too!

While the children colored the pictures of our buzzing buddies, they were asked, "Who wants to taste some honey?" All hands were vertical and the parents enjoyed a good giggle at the response!

A venture into the butterfly garden revealed sedum and Rose of Sharon covered with all three insects discussed. The children were quick to identify and recognize the differences of each species. It was quite rewarding to see their excitement at finding all three species and their pride in knowing the difference between the species.

The day ended with a hike through the trails looking for yellow jacket nests among the dead trees. A special treat was found when the children spied upon a box turtle enjoying a spot in the sun!

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Janet Gremli

Young Naturalists Club - February 2, 2014

Click to enlarge photos - Photos Courtesy of Juliane Wohler

Young Naturalists Club - August 2013

YNC attendees drawing creatures or flowers they saw either on our nature walk or while observing the feeders.

Click to enlarge photos

Young Naturalists Club - March 2013

Attendees had lots of fun making hatching chicks!

Click to enlarge photos

Sunday, January 6, 2013 - Daisy Troop Pinecone Feeder Program

Making pinecone feeders at the January 6, 2013 meeting of the Young Naturalists Club.

Click to enlarge photo

November 6, 2012 - Scavenger Hunt

On Sunday, November 6th, our Young Naturalists Club was joined by Girl Scout Troop 626 for a Scavenger Hunt at Brookside. In all we had 18 children participate, and 11 adults in attendance.

Under sunny skies, the children searched the grassy field between Green's Creek and the Gate House for acorns, moss, sassafras leaves, feathers, etc. It was a lot of fun and after the Hunt we called out each item to make sure everyone found the right leaves, rocks, etc.

Our last item to find was litter! The children divided into groups and took to the trails. They did a fantastic job and the trails are looking very clean over at Brookside! Following the litter collection we sorted out the recyclables from the garbage.

GSBAS is very thankful for all the efforts Troop 626 has made to clean up Brookside! And for helping make our Scavenger Hunt with the Young Naturalists Club such a great time!

Click to enlarge photo

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recap by Janet Gremli

On Sunday, April 1, 2012, the Young Naturalists Club enjoyed an early spring day at Brookside. The club participants were introduced to over a dozen bird nests from the GSBAS collection. Children were able to familiarize first-hand the engineering accomplishments of our avian friends. Using the books provided by the GSBAS library, a pictorial display was available to correlate those nests whose inhabitants were known. The children were then asked to identify the materials that were used in constructing the nests.

Using the knowledge gained from our nest interaction, the children were then given a craft project of preparing a "nesting bag." Recycled plastic mesh bags were filled with fragments of yarn, embroidery thread, and twine along with bits of moss, leaves, dry grasses, and dandelions found on the property. The children brought these nesting bags home to hang on tree branches in their yards. Now they can watch birds in their backyard collect the bits of material from the nesting bags to construct nests of their own.

Mission: MigrationPlay the Mission: Migration Game on the Audubon website.

In the spring and the fall, many birds fly long distances in search of food, water, shelter and space: the same basic things that you need to survive. Along these routes, they encounter many different types of habitats, from country and forest to neighborhoods and big cities, and at times, encounter dangers from both natural and manmade hazards.

In this game you will try to help your flock migrate safely by learning how choices you make each and every day around your home, school, and neighborhood can affect the fate of these migrating birds - in both positive and negative ways. By the time you're done, you'll have the skills and knowledge to help birds thrive and survive around your home.

Remember -- Take our guided tour of Brookside Preserve in Sayville (across from Sayville High)

Every Wednesday and Sunday - 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.