Best Places to Spot Wildlife Near Vancouver

A woman taking photos of ducks, geese and swans at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Spotting wildlife at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver / Suzanne Rushton

Vancouver is known as a city connected to nature. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are lots of places near Vancouver to spot wildlife. You can see eagles, seabirds, raccoons, beavers, coyotes, whales, dolphins, seals, frogs, bears, bunnies and lots more. Grab your camera and maybe some binoculars, and head to one of these ten wildlife hot spots.

Lost Lagoon

Take a stroll around the trails of Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park to see lots of wildlife just steps from downtown Vancouver. Look for ducks, geese, swans and herons in the water. Eagles soar overhead, looking for prey below. In the quiet of dawn and dusk, watch for raccoons, skunks, or shy coyotes flitting between the trees.

 

Beaver Lake

Hidden in the middle of Stanley Park, you’ll find Beaver Lake. This small body of water is home to lots of wildlife, including beavers of course. Plan your visit for early morning or sunset for the best chance of seeing them. The lake is a popular hangout spot for lots of ducks and geese as well. If you visit at sunset, listen for the loud croaking and chirping of frogs. Pacific chorus frogs, American bullfrogs, and green frogs all live in the lake.

 

Stanley Park Heron Colony

Even some longtime Vancouver residents may not know that our city has a Pacific Blue Heron Colony in Stanley Park. The herons are about 60cm tall with 2m wingspans so there are pretty big birds! There are over 100 nests clustered together near the tennis courts on Beach Avenue. You’ll know you’ve arrived by the smell. Bring binoculars if you visit so you can spot the chicks in the nests high in the trees. And of course, watch out for sticks and bird poop falling from above.

 

Olympic Village

Vancouver hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 2010. The Olympic Village on False Creek was home to thousands of athletes from around the world. Now it’s home to an industrious family of beavers. Find the beaver lodge on the narrow pond in Hinge Park. Dawn and dusk are the best times to spot the beavers and their adorable babies, called kits. Nearby Habitat Island is also a great place to spot birds or curious seals.

 

Jericho Beach

For the past few decades, Jericho Beach has been home to dozens of adorable bunnies. Apparently years ago someone released their unwanted pet rabbits at the park. Decades later, their descendants are still around. To see them, head to the area just west of the Jericho Sailing Club. Although they started out as pets, they are now wild animals so please don’t feed them.

 

Grouse Mountain

For guaranteed wildlife sightings, ride the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Visit the grizzly bear enclosure that houses two orphaned grizzlies, Grinder and Coola. On hot summer days, they love to splash around in their pond. You can also take in the Birds in Motion show where trained eagles, owls and falcons show off their skills. To see some of Vancouver’s smaller wildlife, walk over to the Pollinator’s Garden to watch bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies flit about.

Two grizzly bears at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC

Grouse Mountain’s resident grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola. Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver / Coast Mountain Photography

 

Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

If you are into birds, head to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta. It’s an important resting place for birds in the spring and fall as they undertake their annual migration. Many birds also nest here each year. You can see dozens of bird species, but the highlights are the sandhill cranes, owls, and snow geese. In the spring and early summer, there are all kinds of adorable baby birds too. Check the Reifel Sanctuary website before you go to see which birds are likely to be around.

 

Brackendale

If you want to see dozens of eagles, make the trip to the Brackendale neighbourhood of Squamish during the colder months. In the winter it has one of the largest concentrations of eagles in the world. The best place to see them is from the walking path on the Squamish River dyke. Bring binoculars to get a closer look. For a more intimate experience, book an eagle watching river float trip.

 

Strait of Georgia

Get out on the water to see lots of animals including orcas, dolphins, seals, otters, eagles, and seabirds. In the summer months, humpback and grey whales migrate past Vancouver. There are so many options for ocean experiences. You can book a whale watching trip, a kayak tour or explore underwater on a scuba dive. You might also get lucky and spot wildlife while taking the Aquabus across False Creek or a BC Ferry to one of the nearby islands.

A whale watching boat in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, BC

Whale watching in the Strait of Georgia. Photo Credit: Tourism Vancouver / Prince of Whales Whale Watching

 

Online

If you have access to the internet, you are already set up to spot wildlife in Vancouver. There are several live webcams around the city streaming wildlife content all day long. One of my favourites is the live Heron Cam at the Stanley Park heron colony. You can watch close up live streams of chicks hatching, feeding and learning to fly. The Hancock Wildlife Foundation has live cams at eagle nests in the greater Vancouver area. And if you can’t make it up to Grouse Mountain, you can watch the live-streamed webcam from the grizzly bear pond.

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2 Responses to Best Places to Spot Wildlife Near Vancouver

  1. Are the swans’ wings clipped?? I’d be worried they’d get into trouble in a big city like Vancouver.

  2. The swans were actually moved to a wildlife sanctuary in the Fraser Valley in 2016 so unfortunately you can’t see them in Stanley Park anymore. They did have clipped wings.

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