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.

The Reifel Sanctuary is the preferred stopover for countless ducks and birds making their annual migration along the Pacific Coast.  From bald eagles and horned owls to snow geese and brilliantly colored wood ducks, more than 250 bird species pass through the sanctuary over the course of the year.  An elaborate network of raised trails winds through the park, with bird blinds and an observation tower for optimal viewing.

Photo credit: schmidtrose | Flickr

Just a few miles away, Boundary Bay Regional Park offers equally impressive watching for birders.  Tidal flats extend far into the bay, attracting some 1.5 million birds from 20 countries as they migrate along the Pacific Flyway.  The waterfront park features more than 18 kilometres of trails that snake along the shore and through marshes and dunes.  Seasonal visitors include red-tailed hawks and bald eagles, snowy owls and ospreys, sandpipers and more than 100 other species.

For more information about bird watching in Vancouver, visit Birding in British Columbia.

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