For the Birds: World-class bird watching on Vancouver’s doorstep

Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters | Flickr

I’m staring at a regal, metre-tall sandhill crane, its slender legs knee-deep in a seaside marsh outside of Vancouver.  It sizes me up with its bright pink head – flamboyant colors worthy of a flamingo – then extends its elegant neck and lets out a majestic, ear-splitting squawk.

The stunning bird’s winter home is the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a 850-acre wetland on the Fraser River, approximately 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver in Delta.  The sanctuary is one of a network of parks and habitats along the Fraser Delta that make the area a top destination for bird watchers.

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For the Birds: World-class bird watching on Vancouver’s doorstep

Great Blue Herons Back at Stanley Park

Photo credit: Alyx Dellamonica | Flickr

It has a wingspan of up to two metres and is the height of a small child.  When it walks on its spindly legs, each step measures 22 centimetres.  And its call – a wild, throaty croak – is loud and unmistakeable.

The great blue heron is the largest heron in North America.  And – little know fact – Stanley Park is home to one of the biggest urban great blue heron colonies on the continent. Last year, herons built 110 nests in the park and reared 100 little heron fledglings.  This month, they’re at it again — back at their nesting grounds near the tennis courts and dazzling park visitors.

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Great Blue Herons Back at Stanley Park

Hidden Gem Alert! Amazing Wildlife at Reifel Bird Sanctuary

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pervspics/4925777756/

Every visitor to Vancouver has their must-do list.  Stanley Park is always on there.  Then there’s Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, among other great choices.

Almost no one has the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on their list.  But they should.

A stunning reserve situated on 850 acres of coastal ponds and tidal marshes in nearby Delta, B.C., the Reifel Sanctuary is one of the most important stopovers for birds migrating along the Pacific Coast.  Translation:  Year-round, it’s chock-full of amazing wildlife, from majestic great blue herons to waist-high sandhill cranes, snow geese, owls and just about every kind of duck you could imagine.

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Hidden Gem Alert! Amazing Wildlife at Reifel Bird Sanctuary