www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com

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Winter home of the Snow Geese and one of Canada's top birdwatching sites.
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Planning Your Visit

Covid Update (last updated November 20, 2020 ):

Some of our procedures changed in July to reduce risks of virus transmission and to reduce local traffic congestion. During the next few weeks, additional restrictions apply to conform to new public health orders just announced November 7th. Please read all of the information below before planning your visit here.

Covid19 Coronavirus Awareness

The Sanctuary is closed on Mondays. It also will not be operating at full capacity. Visitor numbers are currently managed at about 60% capacity through a new reservation system. Gathering areas such as the Picnic Area and Warming Hut are currently closed. Staff and volunteers will have hand sanitizer available. Please wear masks in all indoor spaces (Gift Shop, Washrooms, Bird Blinds) and when physical distancing is not possible along trails.

The washrooms are small, so please practice safe Physical distancing. Although we created extra sinks in an nearby outdoor handwashing station, this seasonal feature is now closed for the winter.

Please avoid gathering in large groups or blocking trails for others. Picnicking is currently not allowed anywhere in the Sanctuary. NOTE: Please bear in mind recent restrictions announced by Dr Bonny Henry: "People can still go on walks or bike rides with one person who is not from their immediate household, but "need to be vigilant that a walk doesn't turn into a group of people meeting outside" and you must physically distance from one another during the activity."

We are currently not taking bookings for self-guided groups or for our programs.

Note: We are restricting anyone from entering just to visit in the parking lot or to use facilities because of Covid-19 guidelines. We do not want to create any additional congestion, particularly around the washrooms.

Before You Come:

Familiarize yourself with how we manage this conservation site and all of the visitor rules.. Many activities such as dog-walking, petting the birds, cycling trails, picking any vegetation or flying drones, for example, are not allowed. Our non-profit organization, the British Columbia Waterfowl Society runs the Sanctuary and admissions apply. You can buy a membership to cover admission for a year. The Sanctuary is in a rural setting on Westham Island. The travel time from Surrey and Vancouver is usually 45 minutes.

To Book Your Visit (NEW)

All visitors including members need to book their visit now. We have a reservation system to regulate visitor numbers and to keep congestion to a minimum on Westham Island roads. It gives visitors set arrival periods for entrance and the gates are otherwise shut for entry. Start planning your visit 2 or 3 days ahead of time, particularly for weekends, as these book up quickly.

Go to this free booking website. Choose the type of visit (morning or afternoon) then choose a date. A selection of times just for the next three days will be shown. If times do not show for a date, you are either too late (it is full) or too early (it is not open yet). You will need to set up an account to make bookings. Your confirmation will be emailed to you to show at the gate upon your arrival. See our Helpful Hints page for more details.

NOTE: If you plan to bike to the Sanctuary, please phone us before 3 pm the day before so that we can put you on the list of expected visitors for the next day or discuss whether we have enough space if other cyclists are already booked.

Upon Your Arrival:

Come prepared. Dress appropriate for walking outdoors on gravel and grassy trails. Seasonal weather makes for constantly changing trail conditions. Wear proper footwear and proceed with care and attention on our trails and on any of our structures. Visitors use these at their own risk. Please review our Disclaimer page.
Check in at the Gift Shop. This is where you pay your admission. Staff will provide you maps of the area, bird seed, and information about the birds seen recently and answer questions. Note some temporary changes of facility use and hours are in place to reduce Covid-19 Coronavirus transmissions.

Hours:

 

9 am to 4 pm
Last entry 3 pm (NEW)
Closed Mondays (NEW)
The Sanctuary is not open in the evenings.

Most visitors spend 1 to 1.5 hours walking. Note that all visitors need to be out of the Sanctuary by 4 pm. (NEW)

Admission::

 

Adults $5
Seniors (60+) $3
Children (2-14) $3

Annual memberships are available.

   
 

Rules

Our Society manages the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary through a long-term agreement with the Government of Canada. Our rules reflect wildlife laws that protect birds and their habitats, and we also restrict activities which disturb birds or threaten the enjoyment and safety of others.

The habitat is protected here, so please stay on trails and do not pick flowers or fruit or other plants. What grows in the Sanctuary stays in the Sanctuary. To maintain the natural ecology, we also do not allow visitors to bring in plant or animal materials including their own bird seed from external sources. (see Bird Feeding Rules).

Trails are pedestrian walking paths for quiet birdwatching and nature appreciation.

  • No bicycles, tricycles, skateboards or other wheeled forms of locomotion except for wheelchairs and strollers;
  • No dogs or any other domestic or exotic animals;
  • No sports equipment, musical instruments, remote-controlled devices or devices with speakers. No drones, either, please.

Help us to keep this conservation area clean and safe for the birds and all visitors.

  • No smoking or littering
  • No cooking of any form on site
  • No picnic activities except at designated facilities at the entrance;
  • No climbing on or over fences, or tampering with bird feeders, nest boxes or other Sanctuary infrastructure.

Wildlife laws apply in this Migratory Bird Sanctuary (and National Wildlife Area).

  • No hunting or fishing;
  • No cutting, picking, damaging or removing vegetation, and no disturbing or removing soil, sand, gravel or other material;
  • No destroying or harrassing of any birds or wildlife, carcasses, nests or eggs;

It is illegal to harrass or harm birds here, so do not chase, pet or try pick them up. Keep away from birds that are sleeping or nesting, and keep far away (2m) from all nests.

Visitors are expected to obey posted signs and instructions from staff and volunteers.

   

How To Get Here


The Sanctuary is 13 km west of Ladner in the Municipality of Delta. Ladner is west of the intersection of Highways 10 and 17A. From Ladner, follow Ladner Trunk Road (Highway 10) west to 47A Avenue and on to River Road. Follow River Road westward for 3 km and cross the bridge on your right onto Westham Island. Follow the main road to where it ends and there is a sign pointing left towards the driveway entrance gates of the Sanctuary. Follow the driveway 1 km to the Sanctuary parking lot and our facilities. (more detailed Google Maps driving instructions). NOTE: There is no public transit out to the Sanctuary.

What To Do

Birdwatching

For the keen birdwatchers, we have a special Birding Page to outline how to get the most from your visit. For beginners this is a good place to learn, and you will find staff, volunteers and even other visitors quite willing to help you. Explore the Sanctuary on your own. We have some identification signs out along the trails. Be sure to take a trail map with you.

Book a program

We are currently not taking bookings for our programs. When Covid-19 issues ease, you will be able to sign your group for one of our Programs. We do educational tours for school classes, birding groups and others. Loaner binoculars are available at the Gift Shop.

Sightseeing & Photography

There are several kilometers of trails through diverse coastal habitats, many scenic lookouts and a constantly changing mix of bird life to observe here at the Sanctuary. Visit our What To See Page for an overview. Most of our visitors like the tower that overlooks the ocean marshes, the Vancouver area and Vancouver Island.

Kids & Nature

A trip to the Sanctuary to learn about the birds and watch all the wild things makes for an enjoyable family outing. Visit our Kids & Nature page for helpful hints for a good visit. Feeding the ducks in a long-standing popular activity for all ages, and Black-capped Chickadees will also take sunflower seeds from the hands of visitors.See our Bird Feeding Rules, though.

Quiet Zones

The quiet oceanside pathways of the Sanctuary are posted as No Feeding Areas, giving visitors opportunities to see shorebirds and more secretive wildlife such as rails with a minimum of noise and disturbance, and to reduce slope erosion caused by waterfowl.

Visit Our Shop

The Gift Shop is open from 9 am to 4 pm, and sells snacks, bird seed, binoculars, bird books, and many gift items, as well as an assortment of gently used books. This is where you can also borrow binoculars.

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