Reifel Bird Sanctuary

I’ve lived in British Columbia my whole life and last month I finally had the opportunity to visit the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Thanks to my birding partner Ken Kennedy, it was a dream come true. With in minutes of arrival I had Sandhill Cranes (a lifer to boot!), Canada Geese & an assortment of ducks eating out of my hand.


I was in bird heaven

Before you even enter the sanctuary, there is a small building where you pay a small fee, one look from there and you are hooked. There is no turning back because there are birds everywhere you look. Perma grin set in and continued for the next few hours, so much so that cheeks hurt.


The Info Centre/Gift Shop sells small bags of bird seed to feed the hungry masses for about a dollar. You hardly need seeds to get up & personal with the birds of Reifel but it certainly helps you get even closer.


I was so excited to be surrounded by so many birds that I could have spent a small fortune if I sat in one place too long.

The geese were gentle and polite eaters but the Sandhill Cranes were quite aggressive and poked and prodded until I turned my attention to them.


So happy!

The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary is on Westham Island, west of the of Ladner, in Delta, B. C., Canada.  It is nearly 300 hectares (850 acres) of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dykes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary. For the millions of birds seeking feeding and resting areas during their annual migrations along the Pacific Coast, the Sanctuary is ideally located. It is a place where wildlife and their habitats are protected from harm, and it lies next to miles of flat marshland and the farmland of Westham Island. Over 280 species of birds have now been recorded at the Sanctuary.


American Wigeon (male and female)


Sandhill Crane







I spotted at least 31 species of which 11 were ‘lifers’!

Golden-crowned Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Mute Swan, , Canada Goose (and goslings)Wood Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler,Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Northern Harrier, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Eurasian-collared, DoveShort-eared, OwlAmerican Crow, Marsh Wren, Black-capped Chickadee, EuropeanStarling, Spotted Towhee, Savannah Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, House Sparrow and lots of gulls and pigeons.


My birding partner, Ken K.


American Coot


Wood Duck ( male)


Wood Ducks (Female and male)


Golden-crowned Sparrow (male)


Northern Pintail (male)


The marsh lands looking towards the ocean from the viewing tower


Mallard (male) and one of the many turtles in the ponds and marshes around Reifel.


Mallard (male)


Momma Canada Goose and her goslings



Wood Duck (male and female)

9 am- 4 pm every day including holidays. The Sanctuary is closed in the evenings.

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

Driving Directions: The Sanctuary is 13 km west of Ladner in the Municipality of Delta. west of the intersection of Highways 10 and 17. 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 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.


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5 Responses to Reifel Bird Sanctuary

  1. Tess says:

    A few years ago my husband and I had the chance to visit the sanctuary one beautiful august afternoon while on vacation. We arrived after noon and spent so much time watching the attentive sandhill parents forage and feed their young one, which was almost full size, that we lost track time before we realized it was past closing hour. The hours spent have thus far inspired six paintings of the sandhills, three of which are their portraits. I am looking toward July as we will one again be visiting the sanctuary though in hope to see a younger sandhill offspring. (If one wishes to view the paintings go to ) I hope its ok that I post this as becoming birders has been a large inspiration to the art work I now do, which in turn hopefully inspires others to notice the beauty we are blessed with via our feathered friends.

  2. This is indeed a fantastic place to do birding and did so twice this year (so far). One of the best in Canada, I would say, especially given that it is relatively easily accessible (if you have access to a car).

  3. Cindy Boucher says:

    Looks like a great place. Enjoyed your article.

  4. Karen says:

    It looks like an awesome place to visit. $5 is a bargain to boot.
    It would be a thrill to see Northern Pintails & Sandhill Cranes that close up.
    It’s always extra special to see a bird for the first time … congratulations! 🙂

  5. Tammy says:

    I practically lived there. Went almost every weekend. I participated in the Ladner CBC and we had our post count in the museum. I also volunteered there throughout the year and always during the Snow Goose Festival. I miss everyone there. You are almost guaranteed a lifer when you go, there are just so many birds. John Ireland, when he worked there as manager, always seemed to know where a rare one was and told us where to look. Someday I will visit again, but until then I will just have to bird here in Ashcroft.