Bird Watching

For both casual bird watchers and serious ornithologists, Cultus Lake & Chilliwack offers some excellent bird watching options…

Great Blue Heron Reserve
The Great Blue Heron Reserve (5100 Sumas Prairie Rd) occupies 130 hectares/325 acres of the undyked floodplain of the Vedder River. Typically, there are between 100 and 200 blue heron nests at the reserve each year.

Blue herons are the largest species of heron found in Canada, standing as tall as 1m/3.3ft and weighing up to 2.5kg/5.5lb. These birds are easy to identify with their long beaks and wingspans, white heads with black stripes on either side, and grey-blue feathered backs.

In addition to watching herons fly around and fish in the Vedder River, visitors often also spot other wildlife, such as painted turtles, bald eagles and Salish suckers (a rare species of freshwater fish).

The Reserve features 8km/5mi of walking trails, bird blinds for bird-watching and photography, an observation tower, salmon-spawning channels and a 220sq m/2,400sq ft interpretive centre built by the Rotary Club of Chilliwack. It’s all managed by the Great Blue Heron Reserve Society.

Blue Heron Rotary Interpretive Centre – Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve SocietyThe Reserve itself is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. The interpretive centre is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from February 1 to October 31, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from November 1 to January 31.

To get there, take Exit 109 off the Trans-Canada Highway, turn right on to Yale Road West and keep going to Sumas Prairie Road, turning right and continuing to the end of the road.

Cheam Lake Wetlands
Another bird-watching mecca is Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park. Incorporated as a park in 1990, Cheam Lake includes 93 ha/230ac of marshland, lakes, and forests, which can be explored via 2km/1.24mi of walking trails, including raised walkways, floating walkways and a viewing platform.

Close to 200 bird species have been identified in these mineral-rich wetlands, including the likes of Canada geese, mallards, buffleheads, ospreys and pie-billed grebes. Deer, salmon and turtles can also be spotted.

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April 1 to September 31, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from October 1 to March 31. To get there, take Exit 135 off the Trans-Canada Highway, go north on Highway 9, turn east on Yale Road, and follow the signs.

Cultus Lake Provincial Park
At Cultus Lake, one of Chilliwack’s biggest recreational areas, the bird population includes wrens, chickadees and jays.

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