Birds by Boat: a RiverTrek Bird List

An anhinga, we saw them quite often on the river!

By Rebecca Means

October 15, 2023 –Biologists love to make lists; we can’t help it.  Usually they are species lists, but I am also known for my obsession for making lists of state license plates on a road trip.  My plan for RiverTrek was to take off my biology hat, or at least wear it around my neck, and just absorb the information, sights, and sounds I encountered.  I was not going to make any kind of species list!  That lasted for the first tenth of a mile of our 107+ mile journey…but we saw white pelicans!  Who can blame me?!?

The best part of making the RiverTrek 2023 bird list was our group effort.  I was the archivist, but the bird list was definitely collective, from one of us describing the sound of a nighthawk swooping down near their tent one early morning to the barred owls we all heard night after night down the river.  The only argument (errr…lively discussion) we had on the trip was related to which were more numerous bald eagles or belted kingfishers (the correct answer was obviously belted kingfishers). The following is an alphabetical list of the 30.5 birds we saw or heard along the Apalachicola River,  Oct 4th to Oct 8th.  Keep in  mind, we were paddling,…alot…so we weren’t frolicking around with our binoculars birding all day.

Snowy egrets huddled together

The List:

American coot


Bald eagle

Belted kingfisher

Black vulture

Blue jay

Boat-tailed grackle

Brown pelican

Carolina wren

Common grackle

  Common nighthawk

Double-crested cormorant

Eastern phoebe

Gray catbird

Great blue heron

Great egret

Laughing gull


Little blue heron


Pileated woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-shouldered hawk

Roseate spoonbill (!!!)

Snowy egret

Turkey vulture

White-crowned night heron *

White-eyed vireo

White ibis

White pelican

Wood duck

* not confirmed white or yellow (hence the 30.5) but I wanted to include it so I will be invited back next year

Rebecca Means is the director of the Coastal Plains institute, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the biodiversity of the southeastern Coastal Plain, with a focus on ephemeral wetlands and longleaf pine ecosystems. Through CPI, Rebecca leads a variety of science-based and outreach-focused conservation projects including community dipnetting days, an adopt-a-pond program, and an internship program that engages students from FAMU and FSU with hands on conservation work. Rebecca is also an avid backpacker, having documented the most remote spot in 40 states with her family, and a rock climber. Learn more about CPI and Rebecca here.

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