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These bird watching trails are the best way to explore B.C.’s incredible nature and wildlife

Vancouver-adjacent birding hotspots along the BC Bird Trail provide some of North America’s best bird watching opportunities.
Garry Point Park - Richmond - BC Bird Trail
Garry Point Park. Photo: BC Bird Trail.

There has never been a better time to try bird watching. 

Birding is an experience rooted in mindfulness, accessibility, and connection with the great outdoors. During the fall and winter months, it provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy the quieter trails, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate the surrounding nature and wildlife.

As well, bird watching is a safe and physically distant activity to responsibly explore — in your small social bubbles or solo — during COVID-19.

First timers can check out the newly-launched BC Bird Trail for a resource guide to plan out their first bird watching excursion in the province — whether as small as an afternoon outing to your local park or as big as a weekend road trip.

Here are some Vancouver-adjacent birding hotspots on the BC Bird Trail for you to explore.


Terra Nova Rural Park. Photo: BC Bird Trail.

AFTERNOON EXCURSIONS

These bird watching locations on the Richmond Delta Bird Trail are within a half hour drive from downtown Vancouver and are accessible by public transit. 

Sitting right where the Fraser River meets the sea, Terra Nova Rural Park is part of the Pacific Flyway migration route. This park offers excellent opportunities to see migratory birds; the viewing platforms along trails are perfect for bird watching.

Also a part of the Pacific Flyway, Boundary Bay Regional Park offers opportunities to see a large variety of migratory birds. Try Raptor Trail for a chance to see local owls and hawks.

Then, enjoy a stroll through Garry Point Park — a waterfront park known for a variety of raptors, shorebirds, and waterfowl. 


Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve. Photo: BC Bird Trail.

DAY TRIPS

A little bit farther out, these bird watching destinations along the Fraser Valley Bird Trail are more of a trek. That said, they are still very doable as day trips with driving times of up to two hours away from downtown.

Derby Reach Regional Park features 12.9 km of trails through forested areas nestled along the Fraser River banks, offering opportunities to see a variety of local and migratory birds.  

Home to one of the largest heron nesting colonies in the Lower Mainland, the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve includes an interpretive centre managed by the facility and multiple trails outfitted with bird blinds. Head up to their observation tower for a “heron’s eye view.”

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park is a 107-hectare park made up of lake, marsh, and forested areas that are home to over 180 different bird species.

Stretching the entire Harrison River, Lhá:lt/Harrison-Chehalis Wildlife Management Area is renowned for bald eagles feeding on the salmon in the fall and trumpeter swans in the winter. Follow the Eagle Viewing Trail at the Sandpiper Resort for the first of many spectacular views. 


Faye Smith Pavilion. Photo: BC Bird Trail.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Catch the ferry from Vancouver and take yourself out on a weekend getaway to the Central Vancouver Island Bird Trail. There, you can pay a visit to prime birding spots, all nestled safely along the Strait of Georgia

Where the Nanaimo River meets the Salish Sea, the Nanaimo River Estuary is the largest estuary on Vancouver Island.

Faye Smith Pavilion is an interpretative centre that honours the longtime wild-salmon advocate dedicated to protecting salmon habitats from the Englishman River to Little Qualicum watersheds. Take in the panoramic view, and learn about the intertidal ecology, wild salmon, and a myriad of bird species. 

For more info, visit bcbirdtrail.ca.