Red-winged blackbird

Vancouver Bird Strategy

Our goal is to become a world leader in supporting a year-round rich and diverse group of native birds, accessible in all parks and neighbourhoods, and attracting global visitors.

Birds are important to our city as they are an excellent indicator of a healthy ecosystem – a link between people and local biodiversity.

Over 250 species of resident, migratory and over-wintering birds are regularly observed in greater Vancouver.

Download a map and guide to the most common birds in Vancouver  (1.8 MB)

The Vancouver Bird Strategy works to create conditions for native birds to thrive in Vancouver and across the region.

Strategy overview

The strategy:

  • Identifies actions that we can take to:
    • Reduce threats
    • Enhance habitat
    • Improve access to nature
    • Enhance awareness
    • Grow bird-related tourism 
  • Will lead to outcomes that directly support:
    • A healthy ecosystem and biodiversity within our urban environment
    • Ecological policy areas identified in the Vancouver Plan and other city-wide strategies

 Review the complete Vancouver Bird Strategy (2 MB)

Why birds are important to Vancouver and our environment

Birds are important to our ecosystem. They provide pest control, pollination, and spread seeds. They also enrich our lives with their sound and beauty.

Vancouver and the Fraser River Delta are an important and major stop on the Pacific Flyway, a bird migration route that stretches from Alaska to South America along the Pacific Coast. The delta’s shorelines and forests create rich habitats for migratory and native birds.

But because of human settlement, industry, and forestry, there has been a 35% decline in characteristic bird species in the Pacific Coast region of Canada since 1970. With over 250 species of resident, migratory, and overwintering birds regularly observed in Metro Vancouver, it is our responsibility to reduce the impact of urbanization on birds.

How we will create a city where native birds can thrive

The actions of the City, Park Board, residents, businesses, and institutions in Vancouver have a considerable impact on whether birds thrive within the city. To support urban bird populations, we will:

  1. Support habitat by protecting, enhancing, and creating habitats for a diversity of native birds
  2. Reduce threats to birds in the urban environment
  3. Enhance access to nature for residents and visitors to Vancouver
  4. Enhance awareness of the importance of birds and their needs to the community
  5. Increase tourism by encouraging bird tourism and related economic development opportunities 

Benefits to implementing the strategy

Implementing the Vancouver Bird Strategy has important economic, social, and environmental benefits for Vancouver.

Environmental benefits

Beyond the link between birds and people and local biodiversity, birds perform important services to our ecosystem, they:

  • Disperse seeds
  • Consume vast numbers of insects
  • Reduce the transmission of disease
  • Provide pest control and pollination services for horticulture, agriculture, and forestry  

Economic benefits

Increasing interest in nature tourism offers new economic opportunities for Vancouver. Birding tourism contributes to local economies. In 2009, $36 billion was spent on birding tourism in the United States.

Social benefits

Birds like chatty Black-capped Chickadees, trilling Song Sparrows, soaring Bald Eagles, and colourful Rufous Hummingbirds animate our city. Their songs, flight, and colour connect us to nature, physically and emotionally.

Our partners

We partnered with the following organizations to develop the Vancouver Bird Strategy:

  • Bird Studies Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Nature Vancouver
  • Pacific Wildlife Foundation
  • Stanley Park Ecology Society
  • Stewardship Centre for BC
  • Tourism Vancouver
  • UBC Greenest City Scholar Program
  • Vancouver Artists Studio Residencies in Parks
  • Vancouver Public Library
  • Vancouver School Board
  • Vancouver School Board 

Vancouver to re-apply for certification as a Bird Friendly City

May 10, 2023 - Vancouver was one of the first cities in Canada to receive Bird Friendly City certification in May 2021. To maintain this certification, Council directed staff to re-apply for certification under the Nature Canada's Bird Friendly City program

Vancouver Bird Strategy update approved by Council

January 19, 2021 - The 2020 update of the Vancouver Bird Strategy was approved by City Council. 

Bird Friendly Design Guidelines report approved by Council 

May 16, 2017 - After two years of being applied on a voluntary basis, the Bird Friendly Design Guidelines are now standard guidelines. They will be applied with special consideration in the Cambie Corridor and City Facilities Planning and Development projects.

Vancouver Bird Strategy approved by Council

January 21, 2015 – The Vancouver Bird Strategy and Bird-Friendly Design Guidelines and Bird-Friendly Landscape Operational Guidelines were approved by City Council. 

City staff directed to develop a bird strategy for Vancouver

May 2013 – Vancouver City Council and the Park Board direct City staff to develop a bird strategy for Vancouver.

Work leading up to this strategy

In 2009, the City rolled out the Greenest City Action Plan to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. One of the goals, access to nature, addresses the need to incorporate nature in the urban environment, including a diversity of birds. 

Since 2010, the City has partnered with the Vancouver Park Board, Nature Canada, Bird Studies Canada, Stanley Park Ecology Society, and other community partners to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day and provide a week of public education programming about birds and bird habitat. World Migratory Bird Day is a United Nations-sponsored initiative that recognizes the importance of birds as key indicators to our environment's health.

In 2013 and 2014, Mayor Robertson proclaimed open Bird Week, a week-long series of events about birds. Bird Week 2014 included a highly publicized City Bird competition where 700,000 votes were cast for the official city bird for Bird Week 2015.

Vancouver was selected to host the 27th International Ornithological Congress after submitting a winning bid to the organizing society. The congress was held in August 2018, and is considered the most prestigious event for bird scientists around the world.