Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary website
5191 Robertson Road
Phone: 604-946-6980
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General Information:
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Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary consists of nearly 300 hectares (850 acres) of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dikes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary.This refuge is a wonderful place to go for a walk on a nice day (and keep in mind that when it's raining in Vancouver, it might be sunny to the south) along two miles of gravel paths. It's fairly fine gravel, so it's easy on stroller wheels. This is an important wintering area for migratory birds and you'll be amazed at the number of waterfowl, particularly ducks. Over 268 species pass through the sanctuary and it is a nesting ground for many.

The Sanctuary is 13 km west of the Village of Ladner in the Municipality of Delta. Ladner lies west of the junction of Highways 10 and 17, and is 30 minutes drive from Vancouver. From Ladner, follow Ladner Trunk Road west to 47A Avenue and on to River Road. Follow River Road for 3 km and cross the bridge to Westham Island. Follow the main road to where it ends in front of large black gates. The driveway to the left leads to the Sanctuary's parking lot.

Age Group: 

Babies: This is a nice outing outdoors, in nature, for babies. They'll be intrigued by all the ducks on the ground and may notice a variety of other birds flying about.

Toddlers: This is a wonderful place for toddlers to run around outdoors (weather-permitting) and see lots of wildlife. Feeding the birds is a big hit (remember, no bread) as is climbing the observation tower.

Older children: As with younger kids, older kids will enjoy the freedom walk around and feed the birds. Bring binoculars and a bird identification manual and help your kids identify the many variety of birds.

Hours of Operation: 

9 am- 4 pm daily

The Sanctuary is closed in the evenings. No entrance to trails after 4 pm.

(check schedule before you go in case of changes)


Adults- $4
Children-(2-14 yrs)- $2
Seniors (60 yrs+)- $2
Members- free

Major credit cards accepted. **No debit cards.

*Prices subject to change


Long pathways through "wilderness" to run around. Countless species of birds to identify and feed . A tall observation deck that is great fun to climb!

The dikes serve as walkways and are wheelchair accessible. A two-storey (10 m high) observation tower is located in the northwestern corner and provides an excellent view of the shallow ponds, the intertidal marshes of the Fraser River estuary outside the dikes, the ocean (Strait of Georgia) and landmarks in the Vancouver area. Another viewing area with wheelchair access is only 15 minutes walk from the entrance gate, and overlooks the marshy islands and ponds of the south half of the Sanctuary.

There are several small buildings along the trails. These are "bird blinds" or "hides" and are designed with small slat-like windows so that visitors can view the birds outside without disturbing them.

The fall migration period (October to early December) is the best time to view noticeable large flocks of waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) feeding and resting in the estuary and the ponds of the Sanctuary. Different species have different food requirements, so food to them can include grasses, remnant farm crops, weed seeds, parts of intertidal marsh plants, underwater pondweeds and algae, plankton, other small aquatic organisms or fish.

Highlights for winter visitors are the tame Mallards and Black-Capped Chickadees which will feed from the hands of visitors. Winter visitors often encounter the very small Saw-Whet Owl roosting in the darker areas of branches overhanging the trails.

In spring, millions of Western Sandpipers pass through the Fraser River estuary, and often feed and roost in the managed shallow ponds of the Sanctuary. The spring is a particularly good time to see hawks, eagles, seals, cormorants, ospreys and other fish-eating wildlife.

In late summer and early fall, a wide variety of migrant shorebirds visit the waters, islets and mudflats of the Sanctuary. This is a good time to view Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Western Sandpipers, and to search flocks for more uncommon species.

  1. Dress warmly if you're going in the winter. The refuge is at the mouth of the Fraser river and can be quite windy. All will have a better time if you're prepared for wind and perhaps rain.
  2. There is no food concession at the refuge so you'll need to bring your own. There are benches throughout and a picnic area near the entrance.
  3. Birdseed is sold for about 50 cents per bag, or you can bring your own wild birdseed. Bread is not to be fed to the birds!
  4. It's a good idea to bring binoculars as many of the birds may be too far away to be seen with the naked eye (e.g., eagles nesting in treetops, snow geese out on the ocean).
  5. Make sure your kids give the ducks and geese their space; don't get too close if they seem aggressive. Waterfowl moult in the summer months and are flightless; coinciding with the time that their young are unable to fly. They can be quite secretive and protective during this time.
  6. September to early November is when the birds migrate from the north to the sanctuary. Most return to their northern nesting grounds at the end of March. Among those that stay, May and June are the best times to see ducklings and goslings. July and August tend to be quiet months.
  7. This area is not a park, so leave pets, bikes, barbecues and sports equipment at home, and bring your binoculars or your cameras instead.
  8. Wear comfortable outdoor clothing and shoes, and bring sunscreen and water.
  9. At the entrance, get a map of the paths and buy a bag of seed.
  10. Bring a bird book, binoculars and a warm jacket.


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