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

Special Notice: Some of our procedures have changed to reduce risks of virus transmission and to reduce the local traffic congestion. Please read all of the information below before planning your visit here.
September 17th update: We have had sun,fog, drizzle, smog, smoky haze ... all of the above sometimes each day this week. Those with respiratory sensitivities should come after the smaky conditions are reduced.

Before You Come For Your Visit:

Familiarize yourself with how we manage this conservation site and what activities are allowed. A good place to start is this summary page and particularly the Rules (below). This is a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary and habitats and wild birds are protected here. Many activities such as dog-walking, petting the birds, cycling trails or berry picking are not allowed. It is run by our non-profit organization, the British Columbia Waterfowl Society, and admissions apply. You can buy a membership to cover admission for a full year.

Plan your travel route to the Sanctuary. 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)

Yes, all visitors including members need to book their visit now. We have a reservation system to regulate traffic and visitor numbers and to keep congestion to a minimum on Westham Island roads. Start planning your visit 2 or 3 days ahead of time. Click here to go to the free booking website. Choose the type of visit (morning, afternoon, or cyclist) then choose a date. A selection of the next three days will be shown.. To complete your booking the first time, set up an account using a valid name and email address. Instructions and your confirmation will be emailed to you to show at the gate upon your arrival. (See our help page if you are having trouble). We can not accomodate the needs of visitors who regularly try to drop in without booking ahead.

PLEASE DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY! Please just arrive sometime within the time slot you have chosen. Expect gate closures outside of those times. Note that you still have to pay admissions when you arrive.

Upon Your Arrival:

Come prepared. Dress appropriate for walking outdoors on gravel and grassy trails. Seasonal weather makes for constantly changing 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.

Covid19 Coronavirus Awareness

(NEW- Please Read Before Planning A VIsit)

To reduce Covid19 transmission risks:

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 consider wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible. The washrooms are small so we have installed extra sinks in an nearby outdoor handwashing station to allow more space for everyone.

Please avoid gathering in large groups or blocking trails for others. Picnicking is currently not allowed anywhere in the Sanctuary.

Note: We are restricting anyone from entering just to visit the parking lot to use the washrooms or picnic area because of Covid-19 guidelines. We do not want to create any additional congestion at the entrance and these are all natural gathering spots.

 

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

Sign up 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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