Lots of people are getting into birding as a hobby, and we can help you do the same. There has never been a better time to try this accessible activity rooted in mindfulness and connection with nature. 

Birding can be as easy as going to your local park. You can make an afternoon or day trip of it, or you can even treat yourself to a weekend birding getaway. If you’re living in Vancouver, or just arrived in the big city as a hub for your BC travels, this blog will guide you to some Vancouver-adjacent birding hotspots through communities on the BC Bird Trail.

Short Excursions

These bird watching locations are all within a half-hour’s drive from Vancouver and most are accessible by public transit. They’re perfect options for squeezing a little fresh air into your day. 

Shorebirds and waterfowl are common along the edges of the water.

Terra Nova Rural Park on the Richmond Delta Bird Trail 

  • Roughly an hour by public transit from downtown Vancouver. Take the Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse, then take the 401 bus to No. 1 Rd. From there, Terra Nova is a 15-20 minute walk away. 
  • A 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver 

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

Garry Point Park on the Richmond Delta Bird Trail 

  • One hour by public transit from downtown Vancouver. Take the Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse, and from there, take the 406 Eastbound bus to Chatham St @ 7th Ave. From there, Garry Point Park is a 7-minute walk away. 
  • A 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver 

Enjoy a stroll through this waterfront park known for a variety of raptors, shorebirds, and waterfowl. You can also take the 6km West Dyke Trail along the Strait of Georgia that connects Garry Point Park with Terra Nova Rural Park for some extra birding.

Dunlin can be seen along the shores on Boundary Bay.

Boundary Bay Regional Park on the Richmond Delta Trail

  • Roughly an hour and a half by public transit from downtown Vancouver. Take the Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse, from there take the 601 bus to the South Delta Exchange, then get on the 619 bus from Boundary Bay. Get off at Boundary Bay Rd at the 400 Block. From there, it’s a 10-minute walk to Boundary Bay Regional Park. 
  • A 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver

Also a part of the Pacific Flyway migration route, this park offers opportunities to see a large variety of migratory birds. Keep an eye out for shorebirds like Western Sandpipers, Dunlins, and Black-bellied Plovers, as well as waterfowl like Northern Pintails, grebes, and Green-winged Teals. Try Raptor Trail for a chance to see owls and hawks.

Day Trips 

A little bit farther out, these locations are more of a journey but still very doable as a day trip. We’ve also added in some close-by suggestions for lunch or dinner to keep you fueled up before you head back into town.

The longest river in the province, the Fraser River rises high in the Rocky Mountains before descending through the rapids of the Fraser Canyon.

Derby Reach Regional Park on the Fraser Valley Bird Trail

  • A one-hour drive from downtown Vancouver 

Derby Reach 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, such as warblers, woodpeckers, and waterfowl like mergansers, grebes, and ducks. Less common sightings include American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks, and even Turkey Vultures have been spotted in the area during late summer and early fall.

Once it’s time for a bite to eat, head down to the historic Fort Langley, about a 10-minute drive. Sabà Cafe and Bistro and Blacksmith Bakery are a couple of delicious options.

Lookout posts along the trail are great for a break and some quiet birding.

Fishtrap Creek Park on the Fraser Valley Bird Trail 

  • An hour and a half by public transportation from downtown Vancouver. Take the Expo Line to Lougheed Town Centre Station. From there, take the 509 bus to Carvolth Exchange and then catch the 66 Fraser Valley Express bus to Chilliwack, getting off at Highstreet Mall Bay A. You’ll then catch the 1 bus to Old Yael at Mitchell, which is only a 3-minute walk away from the park! 
  • A one-hour drive from downtown Vancouver 

Fishtrap Creek Park is nestled in the city of Abbotsford and features towering trees full of wildlife and lookout posts along the creek paths, all perfect for birdwatching.

Abbotsford offers many delicious options for lunch and dinner and the city core is only a short drive from Fishtrap Creek Park or you can hop back on the 1 bus towards UFV (University of the Fraser Valley). Try elegant farm-to-table cuisine from Restaurant 62 or check out the Sprouted Oven for some plant-based pizzas and sandwiches.

The observation towers offer some of the best views.

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve on the Fraser Valley Bird Trail 

  • Just over an hour’s drive from Vancouver 

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

For food options, Farmhouse Brewing Co. is close by with BC craft beer and farm-fresh pizza and charcuterie. Or try Garrison Bistro for a larger, seasonally-based menu.

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park  on the Fraser Valley Bird Trail

  • An hour and a half drive from Vancouver 

This  107-hectare park is made up of lake, marsh, and forested areas. These diverse habitats are home to over 180 different bird species.

Back in Chilliwack, try Bravo Restaurant for Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine or Bow and Stern for delicious seafood options with an afternoon and late-night happy hour.

Watch for bald eagles in the trees and soaring above in the sky. Photo by Jon Sailer.

Lhá:lt/Harrison-Chehalis Wildlife Management Area on the Fraser Valley Bird Trail

  • A two-hour drive from Downtown Vancouver 

Stretching the entire Harrison river, this area is renowned for bald eagles feeding on the salmon in the fall, with winter bringing the graceful trumpeter swans. Follow the Eagle Viewing Trail at the Sandpiper Resort for the first of many spectacular views. Continue birdwatching and enjoy the views of the Harrison River by stopping at The River’s Edge Restaurant for lunch or dinner.

Weekend Getaways

Treat yourself to a weekend birding getaway on Vancouver Island, and pay a visit to these prime birding spots in between checking out everything the local communities have to offer. The Central Vancouver Island Bird Trail has many options in its self-guided itinerary for places to stay, food to enjoy, and birding adventures to be had. Here are some great birding places to stop by and check out.

Getting to the Island:

  • Catch the ferry from Horseshoe Bay on the mainland to Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. From there, explore birding opportunities along the Central Vancouver Island Bird Trail.
Informative signage explains the importance of the area.

Faye Smith Pavilion & Brant Viewing Area

The interpretive pavilion honours Faye Smith, a 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 myriad bird species.

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

If you’re looking to meet some birds and support their rehabilitation, drop by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, located in Errington. They offer lots of opportunities to learn about local birds and their habitats in BC.

Watch for sandpipers along the shores.

Nanaimo River Estuary

This diverse area is where the Nanaimo River meets the Salish Sea, creating the largest estuary on Vancouver Island. A highly productive ecosystem that supports a large number of plant life, fish and wildlife species. In the warmer months, watch for sandpipers, raptors, swallows, warblers, and more, ensuring you’ll see plenty of activity during your visit. In winter, the water comes alive with swans, ducks, and grebes. It’s the perfect destination all year!⁠

We hope this list of bird-watching locales inspires you to plan a birding excursion and to look up, and stay grounded on The BC Bird Trail.

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Be sure to tag us or use #BCBirdTrail or #LookUpStayGrounded so we can share your birding adventures!