A Hidden Gem Of BC: The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Last Updated on September 5, 2015


Everyone visiting to Vancouver has a grand to-do list with many great choices. Vancouver has so many amazing attractions to explore such as Stanley Park, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain and a myriad of adventures around the downtown core. Sadly rather unknown, but another great option a short just a 45 minute drive from Vancouver, is the George C. Reifel Migratorey Bird Sanctuary.  It is the perfect location to visit for anyone looking for a peaceful spot to spend a few hours.



Located in Delta, British Columbia, the Reifel Migratorey Bird Sanctuary is a stunning 850 acre nature reserve of coastal ponds and tidal marshes and one of the most important stopovers for birds that are migrating along the Pacific Coast. This means that year-round there are fabulous options to see a variety of wildlife while taking a peaceful stroll around the quiet marshes. There is plenty of signage along each path, helping you to identify each bird you see.

You can also purchase a bag of bird seed at the gate for $1 and enjoy the mallard ducks as they beg to be fed out of your hand. You can also try attracting other birds with the seed, and some are brave enough to land on your hand to take it.


The biggest marvel of our visit to the bird sanctuary was the enormous Sandhill Cranes. They resembled a Flamingo in many ways, with their tall legs and build, but had grey feathers and a bright pink head that really stood out and made us stand in awe as we admired their beauty.


We also loved seeing all the baby ducks; who can resist admiring such cute creatures? There were also hoards of Canadian Geese.




It was interesting to see the local farms located beside the sanctuary shared their fields with the birds. The area is all part of the “Alasken National Wildlife Area” and the fields are farmed under specific regulations with the Federal Government.  It is especially beneficial for the birds after the fall harvest, when there is leftover vegetables and grains available for the taking.



The Reifel Migratorey Bird Sanctuary is open daily from 9am – 4pm, with admission being very reasonable at $5 for an adult and $3 for Seniors and Children over 2 years old.



The Reifel Migratorey Bird Sanctuary is fabulous for a family outing. Our toddler loved seeing all the birds, was absolutely fascinated for a couple hours, and then had a long nap afterwards as a result of all the stimulation.



How To Get There 

The Reifel Bird Sanctuary is located on Westham Island, a small island in the mouth of the Fraser River that’s located next to Delta, BC. To get there from Vancouver, drive to Oak Street and head southbound through Vancouver. Oak Street will eventually cross a bridge into Richmond and turn into Highway #99 South. Continue driving southbound along the highway and go through the George Massey Tunnel.

After driving through the tunnel, take Exit #28 BC Highway #17, which is the same route to BC Ferries. At the first set of traffic lights, turn right onto Ladner Trunk Road. Continue driving straight, passing the shopping malls, and drive straight through the lights at Elliot Street. After driving straight through the lights, the road curves and becomes 47a Avenue. Follow this for about 1km as it will veer left and become River Road West. Continue to follow River Road and watch for signs to Westham Island and Reifel Bird Sanctuary as you will eventually make a right turn onto Westham Island Road. Cross over the 1-way wooden bridge and follow the road as it weaves through the island. At the metal gates where Environment Canada is located, turn left and follow the narrow road into the gravel parking lot.

For directions and more information, check out their website , though keep in mind that the website needs a facelift, so it currently doesn’t do the sanctuary justice.


 What is a hidden gem you have found around your hometown?