Get up close with birds and learn all about them and their habitats on the BC Bird Trail! There are several educational rehabilitation centres and organizations focused on providing opportunities to learn about the importance of BC birds and the ecosystems that surround them. 

Perfect for kids, families, or anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of nature! Here’s a closer look at some stops on the BC Bird Trail that can help you be more informed and appreciative of BC’s natural splendour and all that inhabit it.

Central Vancouver Island 

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA) is located in Errington, near Coombs and Parksville Qualicum Beach. They are primarily a rehabilitation centre with several resident (non-releasable) birds and other animals (like black bears).NIWRA’s resident birds provide up-close learning opportunities for visitors through a wide range of activities. 

They have a Museum of Nature showcasing the animals of Vancouver Island, an interactive Learning Centre, beautiful enclosures to get close to more than 60 resident animals, a native wildlife garden, and bird watching spots and ponds full of activity. Make your visit extra special by booking guided tours for your group/organization (currently unavailable during COVID-19).

Learn more about the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre before you visit. Check out how you can support their work through volunteering or animal sponsorships.

The Raptors is a rehabilitation and education centre primarily focused on birds of prey from Vancouver Island. Located in North Cowichan, The Raptors’ team is composed of biologists and falconers who help care for the birds. They provide interactive experiences showcasing the critical role birds of prey play in maintaining the delicate ecological balance of the planet.

Admission fees include checking out the birds on display in their areas, as well as the flying demonstrations. Watch various native and non-native species, including American kestrels, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, golden eagles, spectacled owls, and more. You can also participate in their hands-on experiences. The Hawk Walk takes guests through the trails where a hawk will land on your arm. Their multi-hour or multi-day courses teach you all about the birds and the basics of falconry.

Learn more about the educational experiences focused on birds and their habitats offered by The Raptors and their resident birds.

South Fraser

Next to Boundary Bay Airport in Delta, Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) is a registered non-profit organization. Their staff and volunteers are dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned raptors and to educating the public on their conservation and importance. Meet the resident raptors on-site through 30-60 minute guided tours (by donation). Currently, tours are only on weekends and you must register online prior to attending.

OWL is home to several Great Horned Owls. Photo by Christina Schulz.

If you want a totally virtual experience, you can register for online programs. Learn about the amazing species of raptors that call British Columbia home, the dangers they face, and how you can help them and other wildlife.

OWL is also close to the 72nd Street access to the Boundary Bay dyke trail, a great location for birding before or after you visit.

Fraser Valley

The Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve in Chilliwack is an amazing place to observe a large heron colony during the nesting and breeding season. There are typically around 95 active nests during the breeding season from March to July. A trail network throughout the cottonwood trees has an observation tower to get a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. Try out their bird blinds which make it easier to observe all the other birds that frequent the area. 

Their Rotary Interpretive Centre has wildlife displays and volunteers readily available to offer insights and learning opportunities. Learn about the herons and the surrounding marsh and swamp habitat. Occasionally they also host free community events, like nature art classes or weekly yoga programs that take place in the nature reserve.

Learn more about the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, all the educational programs they provide, and how you can help support their work. 

For more BC nature learning and exploration opportunities, check out the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre on the Central Vancouver Island Bird Trail. Perfect for hands-on interpretive learning about birds and their habitats in the estuary.

Our self-guided itineraries can help you find more places of interest and educational opportunities.