Bird Watching on the St. Johns River

If you’re into bird watching, the place to be is the St. Johns River. The river is teaming with wading birds during the day and thousands of birds returning to their nests by evening. Spring is also the time of year that birds descend back north, making this the opportune time to observe their migration.

We would love to educate you about various bird species, along with other wildlife and the crucial role that Florida plays to migration patterns and the ecosystem so you’re ready for bird watching on the St. Johns River.

Birds to Watch for on the St. Johns River

white pelicans on the river
Your’e likely to spot white pelicans when you’re bird watching on the St. Johns River.

If it’s birds that brought you to the St. Johns River, it’s birds you’re going to see. Bird watching is best during the fall, winter and spring and the St. Johns River also serves as an incredible backdrop, guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

This time of year, you’re likely to see:

  • Bald Eagles
  • White Pelicans
  • Northern Harriers
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Mottled Ducks
  • Blue-Winged and Green-Winged Teal Wood Stork
  • Moorhens
  • Night Herons
  • Roseate Spoonbills
  • Marlins
  • Peregrine Falcons
  • Wild Turkeys Limpkins
  • Wood Ducks
  • Crested Caracaras
  • Black Skimmers
  • Sedge Wrens

Florida: The International Bird Hub

bird watching migration on the river
Florida is a major rest stop for birds migrating north to their nesting sites for the summer.

The bi-annual cycle of birds migrating is in full swing during the months of March and April. Florida is a major rest stop for birds upon crossing the Florida Straits channeling from Cuba, South America and the Caribbean; until they proceed north to stake out prime breeding territories. Make sure you check them out while bird watching on the St. Johns River while you can.

I’m Bird Watching on a Boat!

A egret on a boat in the river
You never know who will drop in to captain your boat when you’re bird watching on the St. Johns River.

You can do plenty of bird watching while hiking or walking the various conservation areas and reserves that line the St. Johns River. Now it’s time to think out of the box though. Imagine the envy of your bird watching buddies when you return to tell them about bird watching on a boat or a kayak.

Watching wildlife while bird watching on the St. Johns River is a panoramic view of nature. There’s a lot more to see than just birds. The area is also home to manatee, deer, otter, bobcat, gators coasting along the river banks and sometimes the occasional Florida panther. Don’t forget to reserve some time to fish!

Need a place to stay? We offer cabins right on the river and boat rentals. Pick up the phone and call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3422 to plan your perfect bird watching experience on the river.

Lake George: The Perfect Day Trip from Astor, Florida


Lake George
Lake George is Florida’s second largest lake, following Lake Okeechobee.

Load up the boat at Castaways on the River and head a few minutes north along the beautiful St. Johns River to spend the day exploring picturesque Lake George. The area calls to fisherman, sport and recreation boaters alike. Not to mention, the water and shore offer visitors a variety of activities to suit many interests.

Lake George: Did You Know?

Lake George, at approximately 6 miles across and 11 miles around, is noted as one of Florida’s largest lakes, following Lake Okeechobee. The lake is fed from the northern flow of the St. Johns River, along with Juniper Creek, Salt Creek, Silver Glen Springs and Lake Kerr.

The Ocala National Forest provides the western boundary of Lake George while the Lake George Conservation Area lies to the east. By far, the best way to see the lake and enjoy its many unique features is by boat.

Lake George map
Follow the map from Lake George to Castaways on the River.

A Lake Named After a King

This region is steeped with history. In fact, it is a part of the area where the Timucua Indians settled in Florida in the 1500s. In the 1700s after the sale of the Florida Territory to the British, John Bartram, a botanist, explored the St. Johns River and named the lake for King George. In later years, Lake George became a popular destination for northerners to escape the harsh winter temperatures.

Known For Being a Home to Many

Lake George is known for being a sustainable habitat for a wide array of marine animals and wildlife. It’s one of the state’s most popular bass fishing areas. In addition, the shores of Lake George are home to one of the state’s largest concentrations of bald eagles, as well as a host of migratory water birds. A good resource about the area we like to share is Jim Porter’s Guide to Bass Fishing.

A unique aspect of Lake George is its salt content from area feeder springs along the St. Johns River. It’s this mix of fresh and salt water that provides a sustainable habitat for marine life ranging from Atlantic stingray to various species of mullet, striped bass and blue crabs.

In fact, outside of bass fishing, the blue crab population in Lake George supports one of the only freshwater blue crab fisheries. And the nearby town of Palatka hosts an annual Blue Crab Festival.

An Abundance of Activities

Lake George’s abundant shoreline features other activities appealing to explorers. One of these activities is the Lake George Trail in the Ocala National Forest, which gives hikers a view from land.

Another point of interest is the nearby Lake George State Park. The park, lacking shoreline access to Lake George, does have easy access to the St. John’s River. Lake George State Park is a part of The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway, and the Trailwalker Hiking Program. Visitors can explore a network of nature, hiking and horse trails, camp, launch a canoe and fish.

As you can see by now, Lake George offers a day’s worth of fun that can easily stretch into several more days. It’s a good trip to plan with a family or group because there will be more than enough to do. Let Castaways on the River be your home base while enjoying Lake George. We have a fleet of rental boats, along with lodging accommodations to fit your needs at Castaways on the River. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about us and to keep up with the latest happenings at Castaways!


Family Trip Ideas

Boat Ride – St. Johns River

Greenery on St. Johns River

St. Johns River is Florida’s longest river; forming a beautiful path that flows from Indian River County to northeast Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean. A boat cruise of the river offers many opportunities for an affordable family trip, as the river is known for its diverse wildlife and freshwater fishing, especially largemouth basses. The river is a haven for manatees and a variety of birds. Pass through Heritage Corridor, which offers views of Volusia County’s rich cultural heritage and national treasures.

Recreation –  Silver Glen Springs

If you are boating on the St. Johns River, plan to visit Silver Glen Springs, located just a few minutes up the river from Astor, FL. Silver Glen Springs is in the Recreational Area of the Ocala National Forest. The spring has a large semicircular pool that measures 200 feet from north to south, and 175 feet east to west. With such magnitude, the crystal-clear spring basin is popular for snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Everyone will have plenty of room to splash and play!

Silver Glen Springs - Family Fun

Silver Glen Springs is an important archaeological site with hiking trails where you can explore and learn more about the history and ecology of the area.  The natural setting is surrounded by forests of oak, cedar and pines, providing the perfect scenery for photography and birding. If you happen to visit the Spring in the winter, you may see manatees visiting from the cooler waters of the St. Johns River.

Castaways on the River offers many boats for rent for your next cruise. Consider staying with us as well and wake up to beautiful sunshine in our many cottages and motel rooms that will accommodate almost any party size. We would love for you to come visit and experience the beautiful oasis Astor has to offer.

-Castaways on the River