How To Bird Watch By Boat This Winter

While bird watching is enjoyed best in warmer seasons, that’s not to say that there aren’t some regional species that you can spot during the winter as well. In Western Florida, you can spot Snailkites, Limpkins and even Woodstorks. The Adirondacks are another great location to catch waterfowl and songbirds of all types playing near large bodies of water. Rhode Island is also ripe with Mallards, flocks of Pintails and American Black Ducks in protected bays and marshes. Needless to say, your range of options for spotting some sweet wildlife are pretty wide no matter where you are. Though you won’t be catching many migrations, you’re sure to get lucky to spot a few birds on a feed mission or simply exploring.

If you’ve never tried paddle birding, take this as a sign to give it a go. With our K-Pak, you’ll be discreet as ever coasting on the surface as you take in those quiet moments, trying to track any movement visible through the foliage and trees above. Just be sure to have your binoculars handy incase you spot something! Here are some tips you can follow to have the most serene day birdwatching on the water. 

Paddle Gently

It should go without saying that we don’t want to scare any of the birds off! Try and perfect that tranquil scoop as you quietly slosh your way through narrows or open water. This also means we must use our inside voices. Once you get into it, it’s truly an art form and opens up avenues for you to go undetected to see as much wildlife as you can. See Paddling Magazine’s skill breakdown on mastering a silent paddle here.

Cloudy Days Are Best 

They're also in no short supply these days depending on where you are, plus the glare from the sun may cause disorientation or strain on the eyes. Cloudy days are also the best time for photographers to get the best shots. While you may think that brighter days are better, some people find that the moderately weaker lighting is the best for capturing photos of birds. 

Don’t Forget the Optics

Binoculars, or even some portable monoculars, as any bird watcher knows, are the best way to get a perfect visual from afar of these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. For all of the photographers out there, you’ll know that faster shutter speeds are how you get the most prime shots of birds in action, and low ISOs make for quieter snapping.

Invest in a Waterproof Bag

A worthwhile investment for spending long hours on the water. From your photo gear to binoculars, sunscreen, meds and even lunch, you want to be ready for anything especially when you’re paddling deep. We love Watershed Drybags’ Ocoee duffel, which has an additional photo kit available for purchase to keep all your prized equipment safe! It’s also the perfect size to fit below deck. 

Keep a Respectful Distance 

We all know the view is better up close, but remember that the closer you are to their natural habitat, the more erratic or defensive birds are likely to become. While they won’t go Alfred Hitchcock on you, you may be disturbing a critical period during their life cycle. A common "hibernation" style activity they do is known as torpor. This is where they burrow themselves in their puffed up feathers for insulation and energy conservation during chillier seasons, a very important part of their seasonal routine. Though it’s more of a regular sleep cycle, it can start at any time of the day. Some wild species even begin laying eggs and mating in late winter.




As always be sure to layer up, drink plenty of fluids and keep a lot of snacks on hand for all of your winter paddling adventures!