Vancouver Making your way to Vancouver for the first time, or just looking to learn more about the city, whether you've been here or not? This section is full of what you need to get to know Vancouver> More
Although it can be exciting to see exotic animals in the zoo, spotting wildlife in Vancouver’s natural habitats can be both exhilarating and rewarding — and surprisingly easy, if you know where to look.
Serious bird watchers will love Vancouver’s diverse population of winged creatures, from majestic bald eagles to flocks of Canadian geese. Pack a pair of binoculars and get ready to see more than 280 species of birds at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which is about an hour’s drive from downtown. Its wetlands and marshes serve as prime resting spots for flocks of birds traveling through the area, while mallard ducks, hawks and black-capped chickadees can be seen year-round.
On a lesser scale, take a walk through Stanley Park, where wood ducks, geese and swans are known to paddle through Lost Lagoon, and the surrounding trees are dotted with large, scraggly blue heron nests.
Whales and Seals
Whale watching is a popular activity from March through October, and once you spot one of these majestic creatures — or an entire pod of them — you’ll know why. Embark on a half-day or daylong expedition on the ocean surrounding the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands, where migrating humpbacks and resident orcas inhabit the waters. Many of these coastal areas are also home to seals, marine birds and otters, so there will be plenty of opportunities to snap pictures of the local wildlife.
While it may seem as though you’d have to trek to a remote stream or venture into the wildness to catch a glimpse shimmering salmon leaping up fish ladders, the Capilano Salmon Hatchery offers a chance to witness this fascinating cycle of life just minutes from downtown. Enter the incubation area to see fertilized salmon eggs or peek into the adult holding ponds with glass viewing windows to glimpse coho, chinook and steelhead varieties. This fish hatchery is not only a fun, free activity for the whole family, but it increases the freshwater survival of these salmon.
Despite its bustling downtown, the greater Vancouver area has vast areas of lush rainforest and dense woodlands. These remote forests are home to larger wildlife, such as bears and wolves. To take in this pristine wilderness and its furry beasts, drive over to Grouse Mountain, which is only 15 minutes from downtown. Here, you can hop aboard the aerial tram and get a panoramic view of the mountains, foliage and wildlife — and see the orphaned grizzly bears that live at Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.