Authors Posts by Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen


Attract butterflies to your yard by starting a pollinator garden. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

“Think locally, act globally.” It’s a popular expression conveying how small changes accumulate into a significant positive impact felt on a larger scale. Well, in honor of Earth Day, I’d like you to think very locally. Not just close to home, but your home itself—more specifically, your own yard. 

The typical suburban community features perfectly manicured lawns maintained by toxic pesticides. Oftentimes, they are home to ornamental shrubs and trees that are non-native species that provide few benefits to local fauna, that generally prefer to seek food and shelter in plant life that is native to the area. Here’s a list of ways you can take action to support Long Island’s diverse wildlife and the entire planet just by making a few changes in how you care for the greenspace right outside your door.

Grow plants that are native to your region. Your favorite backyard critters will thank you. Native plants offer nutrients that are especially healthy for our local wildlife. For instance, dozens of species of wild birds will flock to a red mulberry bush, and common milkweed will attract endangered Monarch Butterflies. Not to mention they need less of your time and maintenance! Because they’re so well-adapted to our climate, native plants don’t need much (if any) watering and are extremely hardy. To see which species are native to your area, please check out Audubon’s Native Plant Database. 

A North Flicker in leaf litter. Photo by Raina Angelier

Leave the leaves and dead trees. Postpone your spring clean-up and raking the leaves until temperatures reach at least 50 degrees during the day for 7 consecutive days. The dead leaves provide shelter for nesting insects that are the perfect sustenance for many kinds of animals, including baby birds who are hatching this time of year. Dead trees also provide beneficial insects with a home. As long as the dead tree on your property is not threatening any nearby structures, leave it standing to promote a biodiverse ecosystem in your yard. If you are planning on having a tree removed, please do so after nesting season.

Start a pollinator garden. Without pollinators like beetles, flies, bees, butterflies, birds, and ants, three-quarters of all our staple crops wouldn’t exist. Tragically, bee and bird populations are shrinking, primarily due to habitat loss. By growing plants that attract and feed pollinators, you are doing your part to protect hundreds of species of friendly creatures essential to life.

Weed out harmful pesticides and fertilizers. We have become accustomed to depending on weedkillers and chemical-filled plant food to grow pristine gardens and lawns. But these products do more harm than good. 

Pesticides don’t only kill the harmful insects, they kill the good ones, too. They also hurt larger creatures including humans. They can harm your pets and backyard birds, and lead to health complications in people. Fertilizers wreck the balance of natural nutrients in the soil and can make your yard less fertile in the long run. Both pesticides and fertilizers contribute to ground and water pollution. Native plants do not need pesticides and fertilizers as they are already perfectly adapted to our soil composition and ecosystem.

Make your yard a Bird Oasis. Turn your yard into a safe haven for feathered friends by offering them multiple food sources, water, and shelter. Plant native flowering and fruit-producing plants, fill your feeders with a variety of seeds, and put out a birdbath, and watch the chickadees, sparrows, warblers, finches, cardinals, and jays flock in. I also implore you to keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats are deadly predators to birds and kill 2.4 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Watching birds is a wonderful way to reduce stress and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. To learn more, please visit

Reduce your lawn. By shrinking the manicured area of your lawn, not only will you leave more room for native plants, but you’ll also lower your water bill and your emissions by mowing less.   

Harvest rainwater by collecting it in a rain barrel. You can use rainwater to water your garden and lower your water bill. This sustainable water management strategy also eases the stress on utilities during peak water usage. 

Start a compost bin. Composting will reduce the amount of waste you send to the dump and aid your garden as a natural fertilizer. This can be considered a long-term investment in your yard. Plant products like food scraps and paper garbage will decompose to make nutritious plant food in around six months to two years.

To learn more about how to make your yard more eco-friendly, please reach out to the Four Harbors Audubon Society. Also, be sure to stop by the 4HAS’s Tree Fest at the Three Village Historical Society on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be educational and fun for the whole family, with craft activities, educational exhibits, a native plant sale and raffle prizes.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

The Cinnamon Candle will be selling custom-scented soy candles at the Winter Holiday Market.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Garland-bedecked main streets and ancient forests blanketed in sparkly snow aren’t the only idyllic qualities of wintertime in the Three Villages; it is the area’s warm and embracing community that invokes the holiday spirit above all else. That said, there’s nothing that says “community” and “holiday spirit” better than a winter market! 

From farmers and chefs to crafters and artisans, vendors from all over are welcome to participate in the very first annual Three Village Winter Market, hosted by the Three Village Historical Society on Dec. 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

As the TVHS says on their website, “Give big by shopping small”—and locally —this season. Not only does shopping locally at fairs and markets support the community we love, but it can also reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, you’re bound to find one-of-a-kind items that are homegrown, handcrafted, or home cooked. According to Dan Murphy, the TVHS staff member organizing the event, “There is something personal when you visit these small shops and vendors. I love the care that everyone puts into their work; it’s not just an item to sell, it is a passion, an art, and it’s worth sharing and certainly worth supporting that type of art and creativity.”

Located on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society’s headquarters at 93 North Country Road in Setauket, the Winter Market is expected to feature at least 50 vendors selling everything from soaps, candles, beeswax, stained glass, and chainsaw art to wine, cheese, chocolate, and macarons. 

Keep an eye out for adorable and skillfully made felted gifts at Ewes and Coos Felted; delectable, homemade treats at Barry’s Baked Goods; fragrant soaps; and balms at Amadeus Aromatherapy; beautifully crafted stained glass ornaments and hangings by Cashmere Pecan; custom scented soy candles by The Cinnamon Candle, woodworking inspired by our rich maritime history by The Nautical Arts Workshop and so much more. The event will also feature a children’s crafting station and is dog-friendly 

Stop by the Society’s museum, located in the circa 1800 Bayles-Swezey house and decorated in Victorian-era holiday finery to check out their award-winning exhibits and the gift shop’s exclusive holiday offers. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcomed. 

If you are interested in participating as a vendor, please reach out to the TVHS through their website at to sign up. Artisans and small businesses of all kinds are welcome to bring their wares to sell. Each space is 10×10 feet, and participants are required to bring their own tents and tables. Vendors can purchase a spot for $100 for one day or $150 for the whole weekend. These fees are non-refundable unless the whole event is canceled due to inclement weather. Please reach out to Dan via email for additional information at [email protected].

“It truly is so inspiring to see so many Long Island-based entrepreneurs that bring so much talent to the table,” said Mari Irizarry, TVHS director. “This Winter Market honors their struggles and their craft. Our one and only wish that we’ll be sending off to Santa is that the community comes out and helps each vendor completely sell out! … See you at the Winter Market!” 

For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit

Three Village Historical Society presents Candlelight House Tour Dec. 2 & 3

By Cayla Rosenhagen

With its waterside, windy roads lined with old-growth forests and historic homes bedecked in twinkling lights, ribbons, and garland, a visit to Old Field is nothing short of stepping into a holiday Hallmark movie crossed with a Norman Rockwell illustration making it the perfect place to be featured during this year’s Three Village Historical Society Candlelight House Tour in December. Explore the village by candlelight and learn about its historic properties, all the while soaking up the enchanting beauty of the holiday season.

The fundraiser event was first held in 1979, and since then, has been centered around a different Three Village locale every year. Currently, the Tour is led by co-chairs Patty Cain and Patty Yantz. According to Yantz, the first House Tour was led by Eva Glaser and Liz Tyler to raise money for the restoration of the Setauket Neighborhood House, which at the time housed the Three Village Historical Society. 

“Today the Candlelight House Tour is the Society’s largest fundraiser and has become a greatly anticipated community event … The Three Village community, serving as our classroom, has given us the ability to teach about architecture, art, and various designs and period styles. However, more importantly, we have gained insight and learned about the people who came before us that have helped shape our shared community,” said Yantz.

This year, they chose to showcase the scenic, residential village of Old Field as it celebrates 95 years since its founding. Participants can look forward to tours of several historic properties in addition to an optional meal and reception at the stately Old Field Club. 

The featured properties consist of four residential homes, the Widewater barn on the Pius Estate, and finally, the Keeper’s Cottage at the Old Field Point Lighthouse, all professionally decorated for the holidays. The Gothic-Revival lighthouse is quite possibly the most famous landmark of Old Field and was built in 1869 atop the cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound.

Hosted for two days, Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3, the Candlelight House Tour offers guests multiple ticket options to choose from. On Friday, all tours begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. The first ticket option, which includes only the tour, costs $75 for members of the TVHS and $90 for non-members. For participants 21 and over, Friday’s Tour and Reception package includes a buffet meal at the Old Field Club with wine, beer, entertainment, and a raffle of one-of-a-kind items. This all-inclusive ticket is $145 for members, and $175 for non-members. 

On Saturday, the tours are hosted in the morning and are preceded by an optional breakfast reception at the Club. For guests interested in only the tour, tickets are $55 for members and $70 for non-members. Their tour will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. For guests who purchase the Breakfast and Tour ticket, breakfast at the Club is from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and the guests get exclusive early access to the House Tour, which begins at 10 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m. This ticket costs $90 for TVHS members and $120 for non-members. 

Tickets may be purchased at the Three Village Historical Society headquarters, 93 North Country Road, Setauket or online at Guests must be 12 years of age and over. All ticket holders can stop by the Reboli Center to pick up a complementary art print while supplies last. 

“The tour would not be possible without our gracious homeowners, generous sponsors, our dedicated volunteers, talented decorators, and of course our wonderful, supportive community,” said Yantz. “Our motivation in co-chairing this event for a decade is appreciating how the Candlelight House Tour has become such a wonderful unifying force connecting so many people together in the spirit of cooperation in our wonderful community.”



By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

The past teaches us invaluable lessons about unity, courage, and overcoming challenges. By studying our community’s deep history, we not only celebrate and learn from the tales of historic heroes and heroines, but also form stronger bonds with those we share our community with.

The Three Village Historical Society seeks to strengthen those ties through its work in preservation and education. Their museum at the Bayles-Swezey House in Setauket evokes the passion for history of its curators in an environment that emphasizes the important roles the Three Village area has played throughout the years. 

I recently had the honor of interviewing Mari Irizarry, appointed earlier this year as the Director of the TVHS, who has brought a wealth of expertise and passion to the Three Village community. According to Irizarry, the organization was founded by volunteers in 1964 to preserve the stories and artifacts of the community. “Sixty years later, that mission is at the backbone of the Society. We are stronger than ever, and it is because of community members and volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to preserving and sharing stories with the public,” she said.

Did you know Setauket and its ancestral residents played a pivotal role in the American Revolution? In fact, General George Washington employed the help of several Long Island spies to gather intelligence on the British army’s operations in what is known as the Culper Spy Ring. The TVHS’s exhibit, “SPIES!” features a large, interactive space where you can follow the daring stories of members of the Ring and learn how they conveyed coded and hidden messages without being discovered by the British troops occupying Long Island.

The history center’s other exhibit, “Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time” sheds light on a diverse community that used to reside in a small area of Setauket. The bygone village still has lessons to teach us all about neighborliness and unity. Over the course of its existence from the Industrial Revolution to the mid-20th century, the area was a melting pot for several minorities including Eastern European Jews, African Americans, and Indigenous Americans.

Despite the fact that its residents practiced different religions and customs and spoke in many languages, Chicken Hill was a cohesive community. The museum has preserved its legacy by showcasing the stories of former residents in the “I Remember” portion of the exhibit, and what life was like then through its informative displays and artifacts.   

The museum grounds are also home to the Three Village Farmer’s Market on Fridays currently from 3 to 7 p.m. and in October from 2 to 6 p.m. Stop by to pick up some groceries and handmade gifts and enjoy the museum’s pay-what-you-can open house and access to all the exhibits.

In addition, celebrate Revolutionary War heroes by attending the TVHS’s 8th annual Culper Spy Day at the museum grounds on Sept. 10. Throughout the day, guests can enjoy an immersive colonial-era experience and participate in interactive activities such as crafts and games. 

Irizarry was eager to share some more highly-anticipated events:

“Next up, after Culper Spy Day, we’re excited to bring back the Spirits Tour on October 22 where guests will join guides through the Setauket Presbyterian and Caroline Church graveyards to listen to stories from costumed actors who will portray the unknown spies during the American Revolution. We’ll cap off the year with the time-honored tradition of the Candlelight House Tour that will take place in the historic neighborhood of Old Field on Dec. 2 and 3. Five homes will be expertly decorated for the holiday season and guests will tour each home learning about the historical architecture and design.”

Visit the museum located at 93 North Country Road in Setauket on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and is free for TVHS members. For more information about the TVHS’s events, including tours of the exhibits, visit their website at or call 631-751-3730. 

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Since 1970, the Long Island Game Farm Wildlife Park and Children’s Zoo in Manorville has been a premier location for families and people of all ages to visit and learn about all the feathered, furred, and scaled creatures with whom we share the Earth. It’s an ideal spot to foster environmental awareness, appreciation, and respect.

I hadn’t visited the Game Farm since I was very young, so returning here was extremely nostalgic for me. The moment I entered the gates and stepped onto the boardwalk surrounded by rich green forest, memories all started coming back to me. I was greeted by a friendly parrot and soon made my way to the first interactive exhibit — Bambiland. I was in utter awe spending time with the friendly, young Fallow Deer. They pranced around happily in their paddock and eagerly approached visitors, seeking food and attention.

In a similar fashion to the deer enclosure, the goat nursery also allows guests to step into the world of these curious creatures. It’s the perfect place for human kids to encounter goat kids. I felt nothing but sheer delight playing with and bottle-feeding the affectionate babies. I certainly had a difficult time leaving the goat pen, but I was prompted by my excitement to visit with all the other animals on the farm.

Throughout the day, I learned about and met all kinds of animals, from African Spurred Tortoises and Grant’s Zebras to peafowl and wallabies. There were also alpacas, llamas, bison, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, and more. 

The kind and welcoming staff members’ immense wealth of knowledge about the animals, as well as the abundance of informational signage all around the park greatly contributed to my experience and generated quite a few “wow!” moments. 

Additionally, I was fortunate to see Bobo, the almost-two-year-old reticulated giraffe majestically grazing and interacting with zookeepers. The gentle giant recently returned to the Game Farm from an extended vacation in the South, where the warmer winter weather is more tolerable to him. You can visit him all summer long, until he heads back down south again in October. 

Although I only saw Bobo from just outside his enclosure, guests do have the opportunity to get closer and even feed him with the V.I.P. Animal Tour. This all-inclusive package also encompasses wallaby, emu, zebra, and ring-tailed lemur encounters, and bottle-feeding opportunities at the nursery. There are also several individual encounters experiences, such as those with the zebras and camels, and children’s pony rides, some for additional fees.

Aside from the remarkable array of creatures to meet, the Game Farm offers amenities such as their snack bar with kid-friendly menu items, gift shop, picnic grounds, and playground areas.

The Long Island Game Farm is located at 489 Chapman Blvd. in Manorville. Weather permitting, you can visit the Game Farm any day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September. General admission tickets cost $24.95 for adults (ages 13-61), $21.95 for seniors (age 62 and older), $18.95 for kids (ages 3-12) and toddlers and babies two and under are free! For more information, please call  631-878-6644 or visit

Cayla Rosenhagen

Author Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education, and pens a column for TBR News Media titled Cayla’s Column.

*This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s 2022 Summer Times Supplement.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

It’s springtime, and there is no better place to immerse yourself in the season’s beauty and hopeful spirit than in Stony Brook Village. Like an idyllic landscape painting, vibrant flowers are blooming across town, and the trees are budding in an energizing chartreuse. In the village, this break in the weather and the new growth are perfect causes to celebrate, and the Reboli Center for Art and History aims to do just that with its new exhibition: BLOOM. 

BLOOM is a mixed-media exhibit featuring spring-themed works by the gallery’s namesake, Joseph Reboli, as well as works by Mireille Belajonas, Kyle Blumenthal, Joan Branca, Bill Buchholz, Casey Chalem Anderson, Pamela duLong Williams, Pamela Herbst, Melissa Imossi, Rosanne Kaloustian, Linda Davison Mathues, Angela Stratton, Ty Stroudsurg, Chris Wagner, Nancy Wernersbach, and Charles Wildbank. The exhibit spans multiple rooms and features exquisitely vibrant and uplifting landscapes and still lifes, each capturing the floral splendor spring offers. Each piece masterfully radiates the qualities of spring- light, optimism, beauty, and wonder.

Explore the exhibit and admire the works by talented West Sayville native, Chris Wagner, the Center’s Artisan of the Month. His detailed wood carvings of birds are created using a chainsaw! 

The Three Village Garden Club is also featured in a sub-exhibit in the History Room, with floral arrangements, more artwork, and artifacts. Additionally, check out the gift shop, stocked with unique art-adorned merchandise, jewelry, and watches, perfect for Fathers’ Day gifts. 

The Reboli Center was opened to the public in 2016 and named after internationally recognized local realist painter Joseph Reboli, (1945-2004). Situated at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, the gallery overlooks the Stony Brook Creek as well as the historic village. It offers rotating and featured exhibits showcasing local artists and the history of the area. 

Please visit the Center’s website at for more information regarding upcoming and current exhibitions or call 631-751-7707.

Visit BLOOM on Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit will be on display until July 10. BLOOM is a must-see on your next outing in Stony Brook Village!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

Above, a Killdeer sits on its nest at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

The Killdeer is a large, migratory plover that tends to nest in odd places around Long Island, such as school ballfields, golf courses, grass strips next to shopping malls, and even in parking lots! 

These locations are heavily trafficked by people and therefore extremely hazardous to the parent birds and their eggs or chicks. Frequently, Killdeer eggs are unintentionally run over by lawnmowers, cars, or trampled by human feet. 

However, this doesn’t have to happen. With the help of the Four Harbors Audubon Society’s newly-launched Killdeer Protection Program, you can contribute to a Killdeer success story!

First, where, and how can you spot a Killdeer; and secondly, how would you know it’s in trouble?  

Keep an eye out for Killdeer here from mid-March to August, their breeding season. The Killdeer we see journeyed from their winter foraging grounds in Central and South America to build nests and raise their chicks here. These birds will spend most of their time on the ground in grassy areas laden with their favorite foods, like worms, grasshoppers, and other insects. 

Unlike other plover species, Killdeer do not necessarily live by the water, and so you may frequently spot them inland. Both males and females are about the size of a blue jay, sporting mostly brown and white feathers with two distinctive black bands on their breast. Listen to them closely, and you may hear their high-pitched namesake call: “Kill-deer!” 

A Killdeer searches for insects at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

Like other shorebirds, Killdeer nests are shallow depressions in the ground called “scrapes.” Here, they lay 4 to 6 eggs per clutch, twice in the season. The tan and brown speckled eggs are well-camouflaged and can easily be mistaken for rocks. Although this camouflage adaptation helps hide the eggs from predators such as crows and raccoons, it also makes it difficult for people to notice them, or to avoid interfering with the nest site. 

What should you do if you find a nest in danger? 

If you happen upon a nest, you are likely to see one of the Killdeer parents feigning a broken wing, luring you further and further away from the nest and its eggs. This “broken-wing dance” is a clear sign you have approached a Killdeer nest too closely. Make a note of the location, place a marker nearby if possible, and reach out as soon as possible to the 4HAS’s Killdeer Protection Program by email:  [email protected]. 

Do not attempt to move the nest yourself. Since the Killdeer is a native migratory bird species, it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is, therefore, illegal to disrupt the active nest in any way without a permit. 

The members and volunteers of the 4HAS Killdeer Protection Program will work fast to make sure the nest is secured by roping it off, by bringing awareness to the site via signs and colorful pylons, and by making contact with the landowners for access. Once the Killdeer chicks fledge or become independent from their parents, members of the program will remove the barriers from the location. 

For more information about this remarkable bird, visit Thank you for looking after our feathered friends in need! 

Thank you so much to my fellow Killdeer Protection Program team members Elaine Maas, Patrice Domeischel, and Georgia Turner for their contributions to this article.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

For centuries, the Three Village area has been home to fearless and heroic women who were ahead of their time. During the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s  (WMHO) Women’s History Walking Tour: “Against the Grain”  on March 25, eager listeners heard tales of these courageous ladies, spanning from colonial times to the 20th century. 

When I arrived in Stony Brook Village for the 3:50 tour, blooming daffodils and crocuses were sprouting up across the town, celebrating the recent arrival of spring. Our group met at the historic Grist Mill, where I met the other participants and our guide, Kayla Cheshire. Kayla has worked as the WMHO’s education and outreach manager for about three years and is a passionate and knowledgeable history buff. 

The event attracted history enthusiasts from all over, however, many of the participants were locals. We were even fortunate to have descendants of a local historic figure, suffragette, conservationist, and town founder Jennie Melville among us.

We gathered around Kayla as she told us about the history of the area, including how it was home to conductors of the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s. According to legend, conductors would use coded quilts to help enslaved people, who were escaping from the still-legal slave trade in the South, along their way to freedom. Details of the quilts, including morningstar and hourglass symbols would indicate the time and type of planned journeys to the next stations, bringing them one step closer to Canada. For instance, a squiggly emblem called the “Drunkard’s Path” implied the path they had to take was a difficult, zigzagged one, possibly through rough terrain and rivers, so they wouldn’t be tracked by bounty hunters.

The tour proceeded to All Souls Episcopal Church on Main Street, then to the Stony Brook Village Center, just in time to see the majestic eagle atop the Post Office flap its wings at 4 p.m. Here we learned of philanthropist and town matriarch Dorothy Melville, wife of Ward Melville, who was known as Stony Brook’s “fairy godmother.” She was a crucial contributor to the Stony Brook Community Fund and the Museums at Stony Brook and is credited with making the village handicap accessible.

Our next stop was The Jazz Loft. Its rich history included being utilized as a fire department in the early 1900s. In 1935, the building was transformed into a museum by the Melville family and prominent local Dr. Winifred Curtis, among others. Over time, the museum changed locations, and is now called the Long Island Museum on Route 25A.

The tour came to a close at the fascinatingly historic Three Village Inn. We learned about the inn’s former owners including Richard Hallock, Jonas Smith, and Jennie Melville, and its former uses as a private residence, tea room, and finally an inn. After the last story was told, Kayla offered us all free desserts with the purchase of an entrée at the Inn and told us about some of the upcoming happenings around town.

On Saturday, April 23rd, the entire village will honor spring with Spring Appreciation Day, which entails live music, a car show, a scavenger hunt, and a petting zoo. Admission is free and the events will take place between 1:30 and 3:30 PM. 

The Women’s History Walking Tour is now available by request for private groups. Additionally, the WMHO offers “Secrets of Stony Brook Village” to the public throughout the season, with completely unique and newly uncovered stories and legends about the town. The tours will be held on April 7 and 21, as well as on June 2 and 16. There are two sessions each on these days, one at 11:50 a.m. and another at 3:50 p.m.  The tours are $10 per person and the WMHO asks you to please call ahead to make a reservation at 631-751-2244.

Visitors can learn even more about the stories of Stony Brook by taking a tour of the 300-year-old Grist Mill. The historic, working mill will open again on April 16th, and Sunday tours will be available all season long, from April 24 through October.

The Ward Melville Historical Organization plays a crucial role in supporting local history. You, too, can do your part by supporting them. The WMHO suggests you can help by making general fund donations, purchasing a memorial plaque, or by sponsoring an event or historic property. The organization also has several volunteer opportunities. Please visit for more information on how to get involved.


By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

Over these past two trying years, more and more people have been flocking to nature for recreation and solace. It’s no wonder that birding, also known as birdwatching, continues to grow in popularity. 

Birding can be enjoyed by all and in just about any spot you can imagine.  Not only is it an engaging hobby for the whole family, but it can also be emotionally therapeutic, mentally stimulating, and provide physical exercise.  Additionally, being connected to nature makes us more attuned to our planet’s needs, and more passionate about protecting it. There’s never been a better time to begin birding. I’d like to share a few easy tips to help you get started.

1. There’s no place like home. Odds are, you have a variety of birds right where you live. Get familiar with your common backyard species that are easy to identify such as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays.  Then start to notice finer details in other birds such as different sparrows. You will be amazed at the variety you see.

2. Get your hands on some resources to help you identify the birds you see. 

◆ Merlin is a great free app. It allows you to enter some basic info such as color, size, and location, to help you figure out what you’ve spotted.

◆ is a phenomenal, user-friendly website chock full of helpful birding info.

◆ Field Guides: My favorites are the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, the Crossley ID Guide Eastern Birds, and the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.

3. Create a Backyard Bird Oasis. Make your yard a paradise for a wide array of bird species by offering various food and water sources, and shelter. 

There are many ways to feed your feathered friends, including planting native berry-and-seed-producing plants and offering feeders full of birdseed and suet. Some of my favorite native flora are Red Mulberry bushes to attract anything from Baltimore Orioles to Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, and Bee Balm flowers for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds as well as other pollinators such as bees and butterflies. 

In addition to native plants, especially at times when they are not in season, consider supplementing your backyard birds’ diets with quality seed and suet. Safflower and black oil sunflower seeds attract dozens of species of songbirds. Hearty suet is the perfect winter treat for woodpeckers, chickadees, and more, due to its high protein and fat content. 

If you choose to set up birdfeeders of any kind, (platform feeders, cage feeders, etc.) please be mindful of where you place them. Be sure they are several feet away from glass windows to avoid bird collisions. Additionally, they should be very close to shelter, such as shrubs and trees, so birds can easily hide if a predator is nearby. Keep your feeders clean to help maintain the birds’ health.

Providing clean sources of water is equally important. Birdbaths, ponds, and water dishes are wonderful ways to ensure your backyard birds are hydrated. Use a “water-wiggler” or similar device to keep the water from becoming stagnate and home to bacteria and mosquito larvae. Think about purchasing a heated birdbath in the colder months so the water doesn’t freeze. Lastly, the water should be shallow enough for birds to stand in.

Shelter for birds in your yard can range from a pile of wood to a stone wall to leafy trees and shrubs. Birds also require good nesting materials and nesting locations. Although it depends on the species, birds often nest on tree branches, in tree cavities, or in or around manmade structures. They build their nests using grasses, twigs, found objects, and even mud. If you are looking to attract more nesting birds, namely woodpeckers, consider not removing dead trees on your property. Dead trees are home to lots of cavities where birds like to nest, and they are home to millions of insects which are a vital food source to birds and their chicks. For more information, visit

4. Seek out Other Birders. Join a local Audubon chapter or one of the many bird-related social media groups. The birding community can be very friendly, with members eager to share their knowledge.  What’s this Bird? from the American Birding Association on Facebook has very helpful and knowledgeable members.

5. Keep a Life List. It’s an exciting challenge to keep track of all the bird species you see. The ABA has a list you can download at

6. Get involved in Remote Learning. Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many resources (free and some with a fee) for learning about birds.  For youngsters all the way through high school, check out, and for birders of all ages, check out Bird Academy,

7. This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning This amazingly comprehensive website provides resources such as maps, photos, descriptions, graphs, notifications, and other data collected by birders worldwide.  Participate in community science by making your own account so that you can contribute to the findings and keep track of your life list using eBird. 

8. Optics such as Binoculars or a Monocular (I found a monocular simpler to use when I was younger) can certainly add to the experience and make it easier to enjoy birds’ behaviors and identify them. 8×42 binoculars are a popular choice among birders. The numbers refer to the magnification and objective diameter.

9. A few tips on how to Bird Responsibly. 

◆ Maintain a respectful distance when birding.  This is especially important for migratory species such as the Snowy Owl.  Remain at least a few hundred feet away from such species. There have been many unfortunate circumstances (out of not knowing or out of selfishness to get a better photo), of people getting too close and stressing out birds that require rest from their long journey. 

◆ Apply bird collision window stickers. Birds have trouble seeing the reflections in glass and often accidentally collide with windows. Adhering stickers to your windows can prevent injuries and fatalities because of this.

◆ Keep your cat indoors. Feral and outdoor pet cats kill 2.4 billion birds annually. By keeping your cat inside, you are protecting wildlife from your cat, and keeping your cat safe from vehicle collisions, parasites, and run-ins with other animals.

Whether you gaze through your kitchen window with a warm mug of coffee in hand or bundle up for a brisk jaunt through the park, our feathered friends are always there to make us smile. I hope these tips help you get started in a lifelong pursuit of birding that will accompany you wherever your travels may take you. Best wishes and happy birding!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

Visitors to West Meadow Beach take a stroll down Trustees Road. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

As we embark on a new year, many of us have resolved to make this year better than the last. Let’s aim to make 2022 a year to smile more and support our neighbors as well as the planet. Our community has so much to offer in helping us achieve our goals. I’d like to share some of my favorite environmentally conscious, self-care resolutions. 

Improve Your Diet and Shop at Local Farmers’ Markets

Looking for a way to support local businesses, enhance your eating habits, and save the planet? Look no further than the Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson through April 25 and the Huntington Farmers Market open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the John J. Flanagan Center, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington. Buying from local vendors has many advantages. Not only are you purchasing a wide variety of nutritious, in-season goods, but you are also supporting the local economy. In addition, you are contributing to energy conservation since local vendors don’t have to transport their products over long distances. 

Get Fit in the Great Outdoors 

Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Cayla Rosenhagen

The ever-popular resolution to start or improve an exercise regimen can have physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. And the green spaces of Long Island’s north shore provide an ideal setting to accomplish your workout goals. With so many to choose from, I’d like to share some of my top picks. 

Historic Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket offers a picturesque, 0.4-mile, paved loop around Mill Pond. Enjoy the local wildlife, such as ducks, songbirds, deer, and turtles, within easy view. Only minutes away is Trustees Road at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook. Formerly home to beachfront cottages, the road is now closed off to car traffic. The paved, scenic, 1-mile path is a popular destination for walking, jogging, biking, and skating, and getting a dose of Vitamin “Sea.”

Setauket Greenway Trail. Photo by Raina Angelier

Stretching 3.5 miles through old-growth forests and neighborhoods, the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway has trailheads with parking at Limroy Lane in Setauket and Hallock Avenue and Main Street in Port Jefferson Station. On any given day, you can find joggers, families pushing strollers, bicyclists, and people out for a walk with their pooches on this hilly, paved path. If you are looking for a wider array of surfaces and difficulty levels, Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park is the place for you. Choose from taking a stroll along their well-maintained, 0.75-mile boardwalk along the Sound, or hiking the many miles of wooded trails, some of which offer challenging inclines. 

Whether you decide to visit one of these parks or one of LI’s dozens more, be sure to keep the health of Mother Nature in mind. Abide by the “leave only footprints” rule and please be mindful of parks where no pets are permitted. If they are allowed, keep your pets leashed and pick up after them. Go that extra mile by toting a reusable water bottle, as opposed to a disposable, plastic one, and bring along something to pick up any litter you may encounter. 

Embrace Your Green Thumb

Oriole on Native Mulberry Tree. Photo by Raina Angeiler

Despite the chilly weather, now is the perfect time to begin planning your own backyard garden. There is no greater satisfaction than eating a homegrown tomato fresh from the vine. In the most literal sense, you get to reap what you sow. Not only will you save money on your produce bill, but gardening is also a natural stress reliever. Beyond the veggie garden, consider planting native plants and making eco-friendly decisions in how you care for your yard. 

For example, traditional fertilizer often finds its way into our water supply and causes a multitude of health issues for us and the planet. Composting is a much safer option. Native plants are evolutionarily designed to thrive in our climate and therefore require less care and less water. To go a step further, make your property a haven for wildlife by providing edible native plants, a water source, and plenty of shelter. By encouraging wildlife such as birds and bats to your yard, these critters will return the favor by eating up the pesky bugs in your yard. This is a wonderful alternative to dangerous pesticides. Reach out to Four Harbors Audubon Society for assistance with this through their “Bird Oasis” program. Visit their website at

Prize-winning fruits and vegetables in the horticulture division at a 3VGC Exhibit. Photo by Cayla Rosenhagen

No room to garden at your residence? No problem. How about participating in a community garden? In addition to getting to know fellow neighborhood gardeners, you will also get the chance to learn from experts. I recently spoke with Ann Pellegrino, the president of Hobbs Farm in Centereach. Here, you can volunteer your time to work in their fields without committing to being the sole caretaker of an individual plot. Your efforts can contribute to supplying local soup kitchens and food pantries with about 30,000lbs of organically grown produce annually. If you’re unable to volunteer your time but looking to support the mission of Hobbs Farm while supporting your health, purchase a Community Supported Agriculture membership to receive farm-fresh produce weekly. The farm also runs a farm-stand during the warmer weather. For more information, visit

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is a valuable resource for new and experienced gardeners. In speaking with Roxanne Zimmer, the community horticulture specialist, I learned the cooperative extension offers a variety of learning opportunities at public libraries and you don’t need to be a patron of that library to attend. For anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener, CCE Suffolk will be accepting applications for their 16-week training program until January 31. More info can be found at

Joining the Three Village Garden Club is another wonderful way to learn more about horticulture. They offer a variety of classes, gatherings, and exhibits. The club dates back almost a century and will resume its meetings at the Setauket Neighborhood House in early spring. More info to come soon. 

Reduce Your Meat and Dairy Intake

The animal agriculture industry produces more greenhouse gases than the world’s vehicle exhaust. Aside from this, natural habitats worldwide, including the oxygen-producing rainforests in South America, are being torn down to create pastures for livestock to graze in, dislocating thousands of native species. By partaking in “Meatless Mondays” or simply reducing your meat and dairy intake all-around, you can be part of a worldwide movement to slow the progress of global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. 

Vegan Artichoke Spinach Fettuccine

Reducing your intake of red meat and other animal products has also been scientifically proven to have a plethora of health benefits. Some of these include reduced risk of having a stroke, heart disease, and obesity. Challenge yourself to get creative in the kitchen with vegan and vegetarian recipes with the produce you purchase at local farmers’ markets. Take advantage of the fabulous, free cooking classes presented by our local libraries featuring vegetarian cuisine ranging from veggie stromboli at Middle Country Public Library to vegetable empanadas at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Check out your local library’s webpage for more information.

Pay it Forward

Reflect and give thanks by donating to a cause that embraces what’s important to you. Being charitable is not only a gift to others but a gift to yourself. According to multiple studies from around the globe, generous behavior is linked to a happier, healthier, more satisfying, and less stressful life. Whether you make a monetary contribution, a donation of goods, or choose to volunteer your time, there are plenty of local charities that would be grateful for your support. Here are some ideas to consider.

Have some clothing or furniture you no longer use? Angela’s House is a non-profit which assists families with medically frail children and will gladly accept these items for their fundraising Home Store located in Medford. Visit to learn more about their mission and ways you can help. Looking for a way to help furry friends? There are many ways to support Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station, including financially, assisting with animal care, and donating items from their Wish List. See for more information. 

Interested in donating to an organization that benefits many causes? The Harry Chapin Foundation in Huntington awards grants to charities supporting agriculture, the arts, education, and environmental causes. Donate through their website at 

In saying goodbye to 2021, let us welcome the new year with these simple, yet impactful resolutions for a happier and healthier you, an even stronger community, and a greener Earth. Happy New Year, everyone!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.