What was once a hobby reserved for middle-aged Tilley hat enthusiasts, birding is the latest hipster trend sweeping the continent. Millennials are leaving their avocado toast behind and heading to major birdwatching destinations to catch a glimpse (and post a ‘gram) of their favourite feathered friends.
British Columbia has 573 species of birds, many of which can be found in and around Vancouver. From the North Shore mountains to the Fraser River delta, the Greater Vancouver region has a variety of wooded and wetland habitats that support hundreds of resident and migratory bird populations.
So grab your beanie and binoculars, khaki attire optional, and check out these birding hot spots around Vancouver:
Stanley Park. The lush urban park is Vancouver’s crown jewel, spanning 1,000 acres and easily accessible by bus, bike, and on foot from downtown. Stanley Park has as many as 230 bird species over the course of the year, throughout its diverse forest and seashore landscape. The park is home to a great blue heron colony and nesting bald eagles. You’ll also find songbirds, owls, shorebirds, wading birds, warblers, birds of prey, and many other species. www.stanleyparkecology.ca
Reifel Bird Sanctuary. The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary is less than one hour's drive from Vancouver and is one of 92 federal Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in Canada. Covering 850 acres of wetlands and natural marshes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary, the sanctuary has recorded nearly 300 bird species and is known as the winter home of the snow geese. Resident birds include sandhill cranes, mallards, spotted towhees, and more. www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com
Maplewood Flats. The Maplewood Conservation Area in North Vancouver, a 20-minute drive from downtown, is a unique tidal mudflat known for its abundance in wildlife, including over 240 bird species. Commonly sighted birds include waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey. The biannual “Return of the Osprey Festival” celebrates the nesting osprey who return to the flats every year. www.wildbirdtrust.org
Other popular spots for birding around Vancouver include Queen Elizabeth Park, Boundary Bay, Iona Island, Colony Farm, Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, Burnaby Lake, and Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress Provincial parks.
In August, bird lovers from around the globe will flock to Vancouver for the biggest bird extravaganza the city has ever seen. The International Ornithological Congress (IOC 2018) kicks off on August 19 and will include a stellar line up of speakers and workshops covering the latest research findings and conservation achievements in the world of ornithology. Registration for the congress is open now.
Vancouver International Bird Festival (VIBF) will coincide with IOC 2018, running August 19-26. Enjoy a full week of birding tours, art exhibits, a parade, and many more exciting bird-related activities open to the public. Tune in for VIBF’s Bird of the Week to learn more about local species in the leadup to the festival.