5 Hot Spots for Bird Watching around Vancouver
Bird watching is an addictive outdoor activity that can easily be combined with a leisurely walk. The area around Vancouver provides lots of opportunities to spot a variety of birds year-round. Here are five best bird watching spots for you to explore.
Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Reifel Bird Sanctuary is located in Ladner and is a very popular place for the novice and experienced birder as there’s lots to see for everyone. You don’t have to look far, the ducks will welcome you in the parking lot. Most likely you will encounter the pair of resident Sandhill Cranes as well. Watch out for the cranes during breeding season as they become very protective of their chicks. The British Columbia Waterfowl Society manages the Sanctuary and conducts regular bird counts, monitors species of concern, and regulates visitor activities. There’s lots of waterfowl, songbirds and birds of prey and every season throughout the year brings different species as they migrate to, through, and from the area. Hours: 9am-4pm, Admission: $5 (adults), $3 (children 2-14 and seniors 60+. More info: www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com
The Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver is the property of the Wild Bird Trust but the area is free to visit and offers a great variety of birds to see. The Wild Bird Trust keeps a sightings board at the entrance up to date so you’ll know what birds are in the area. This area is unique since it is a tidal mudflat and it attracts different species of shorebirds, waterfowl and birds of prey. Migratory birds are frequent visitors and songbirds and woodpeckers can be seen in the more wooded areas. More info: www.wildbirdtrust.org
Located in the heart of Burnaby, Burnaby Lake Park is a city park and offers excellent bird watching. Start at the Nature House and the boardwalk at Piper Spit on the north end of the lake off of Winston Street. Here you can encounter lots of resident ducks and geese. Famous are the Wood Ducks that can be very elusive, but are easily spotted perched on low hanging branches or in the water. The large nest-boxes that were put up across the water are for the Wood Ducks since they are cavity nesters and are suffering from the loss of habitat in the region. Different shorebirds can be spotted as well as different heron species and diving ducks. Songbirds can be found all around the lake and there’s a resident Bald Eagle pair on the south side. The large viewing tower next to Piper Spit offers a great view of the lake area. More info: www.burnabylakepark.ca
Boundary Bay Regional Park in South Delta is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area, Thousands of birds stop by every year when they use the Pacific Flyway migration route, a major fly route for migratory birds that stretches from the North Slope of Alaska to Central and South America. The sandy beaches, salt and fresh water marshes, mudflats, sand dunes and meadows attract a wide variety of birds. Famous are the Snowy Owls that can turn up in the winter when they migrate south from the Arctic. Be discreet when you come to see these magnificent birds as many other bird watchers will be joining you.
A former farm located in Port Coquitlam is now a regional park called Colony Farm. Situated among grass fields, marshland and next to the Coquitlam River, migratory birds and wintering birds can be seen as well as nesting songbirds and raptors. Woodpeckers, Chickadees and the Short-Eared Owl love the old-field habitat that makes this area unique. The river and main ditches attract many species of waterfowl.
Linda Bakker is the Team Leader of Wildlife Rehabilitation at the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC. The Wildlife Rescue Association is the largest urban rehabilitator of wildlife in British Columbia. Each year, WRA's Care Centre admits about 4,000 injured, orphaned and pollution-damaged wildlife. WRA also teaches people how to co-exist with wildlife by operating a wildlife help-line and education programs for kids and adults.