-- Last Updated: Sep-21-12 11:31 PM EST --
You can't make the overhead motion of a double-blade paddle be anything other than a gigantic warning flag. Even a person with bad eyes can see that motion a mile away, so you won't fool birds or mammals into thinking you are not there. The main things affecting how close you can paddle to wildlife are the animal's own degree of tolerance for your presence, and the degree to which you can make your approach seem calm and non-threatening. As someone already pointed out, being the first in your group to come into view is a plus, since it's usually only a matter of time (usually not long) before even a tolerant animal "has had enough". Now, being parked and waiting can be a whole other situation when it comes to choice in colors, as any duck hunter can tell you. In that case, neutral colors can sometimes be an advantage - at least it is for "educated" ducks flying overhead - so perhaps it's true for other birds as well. For mammals, don't worry about anything but motion. Color is of only minor importance. A canoer with a good Indian stroke can sometimes get closer to a deer than any kayaker ever could. They still see you coming, but a boat that moves in a steady drift with "no moving parts" is less obtrusive than one that's accompanied by a pair of waving flags.