5 Tips for Birding at Disney World! (w/o ignoring your family)

Over the past few years, our family has spent a lot of time at Disney World in Orlando. We always have a great time, so we seem to make it back there at least once every year.

But whenever we visit, I always try to find as many birds as possible living amongst the parks and resorts. If you start paying attention, it’s amazing how much wildlife you can see!

birding tips at disney world

In case you want to sneak in some birding during your family’s next vacation, I will share some things I have learned.

5 Tips for Watching Birds at Disney World:

#1. Leave the Binoculars at Home!

The first morning in Disney, I woke up at 6:00 am and took a walk around the lake outside our resort to try to spot some birds. A Cooper’s Hawk flew out in front of me and landed on a balcony of the hotel. After that, many of the nearby grackles started making a lot of commotion, and watching the scene through my binoculars was interesting.

Then I realized I was staring at someone’s hotel room with my binoculars!!

I never felt so creepy and awkward. Would anyone believe I was just watching the birds and not trying to get a peek into their room? Who was around that had seen what was happening?

As you can imagine, there aren’t many other people walking around Disney World looking for birds. So having binoculars strung my neck and looking at the trees and around the resort just felt uncomfortable. I don’t mind standing out, but not in the “that guy might be a pedophile” type of way.

For the rest of the week, I brought my camera with a zoom lens to get a closer view of birds. It went much smoother.

#2. Utilize the Water and Paths.

It’s easy to complain that the only birds around Disney World are House Sparrows, Mallards, and grackles! But, unfortunately, it’s not easy to figure out where the rest are hiding.

So let’s talk about some Disney features that I enjoyed as a birder:

There is lots of water habitat and great walking paths!

At almost every park or resort, there are bodies of water and channels that connect some of the various lakes. Luckily, Disney has also constructed paths next to all the water, making walking along easy. With the water’s proximity, I could spot many wading birds. Keep your eyes open for Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, Limpkins, etc.

Map of Disney World:

Place Around Disney to Watch Birds

#3. Get Up Early

Without a doubt, I had the best luck finding birds early in the morning.

I guess this is not a surprise. The weather was much cooler, and almost everyone else was still sleeping, exhausted from Mickey Mouse the day before (including my wife and kids). I had some very peaceful and relaxing walks before the craziness of a day in Disney began. I could get my birding fix in early and then enjoy the day.

#4. Make it a game, AND involve your family and kids.

Birding and Birdwatching at Epcot

Disney World is ALWAYS busy. I knew it would be tough to see a lot of species of birds, and I took that on as a challenge.

Since your Disney trip will probably include your family that doesn’t quite enjoy bird watching as much as you, I think it’s fun to let them know about your goal. I told my wife and kids that I wanted to see 50 different bird species and to let me know if they observed any.

Pretty soon, my whole family was shouting and pointing at every bird they saw! It didn’t matter that most times, it was just another House Sparrow or Boat-tailed Grackle trying to steal our food. They seemed to enjoy the game, and it proved to be entertaining for them.

I thought this could be a fun game for birders that spend a vacation at Disney World:

How many species can you see? My record in one trip is 27 different species. Use the comments at the bottom of the page to share your results!

And before you ask, the Great Flamingos from Animal Kingdom and Donald Duck do not count!

#5. Temper Your Birding Expectations.

Let’s be honest and state an undeniable fact:

Nobody comes to Disney World to primarily look for birds. Sorry, Donald Duck. It’s unfair to have the same expectations as other great birding locations in Florida, such as the Everglades or the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Our family goes to Disney World to spend time together and have fun. We have made some incredible memories, such as the look on my daughter’s face the first time she saw the fireworks exploding around the castle at Magic Kingdom.

Instead of complaining about the lack of birds, take it as a challenge to see as many different birds as possible while enjoying precious time with your family! Temper your expectations and enjoy any birds that you do get to see. 🙂

Do you have any tips for trying to see birds at Disney World?

If so, please share your advice in the COMMENTS below. Also, I’d love to know your favorite places to sneak away and find birds or the most unique bird you have seen.

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