With its diverse habitats – from coniferous forests to boggy wetlands to rocky shores – Stanley Park teems with an amazing variety of wildlife. At least 500 species are known to live in the park.
In the 1960s only one pair of bald eagles nested in Stanley Park. Today, five breeding pairs call the area home.
Their nests can be spotted high up in large conifers and can be the size of old Volkswagen Beetle cars.
Feeding largely on crows, ducks, and gulls, and scavenging for scraps the rest of the year, they head to salmon rivers in the fall.
Up to ten species of bats can be found in the park. The little brown bat, big brown bat, and Yuma Myotis bat have been seen making their homes in buildings and under the bark of trees in Stanley Park.
All bat species in British Columbia are insect eaters and can often be seen on summer evenings flying over open areas hunting insects.
Stanley Park’s Beaver Lake was, ironically, totally beaverless for more than 60 years until 2008.
Now, up to five beavers have been seen at once, working tirelessly to plug up the flow of water out of Beaver Lake into Beaver Creek.
The beavers are most commonly seen at dawn and dusk during their usual work schedule.
Beavers often appear on the shores of Stanley Park in spring when adolescent beavers have been kicked out of their home lakes in the Fraser River watershed and are forced to find new habitats.
Vancouver’s spectacular oasis plays a crucial role to migratory birds that use the park as a stopover where they can rest before continuing their long journeys.
Over the course of a year, as many as 230 species of birds are easily viewed and heard in its diverse landscape of forests, wetlands and seashores.
The entire coastline of Stanley Park was designated as an Important Bird Area of Canada by Bird-Life International because has a high diversity and abundance of waterfowl and is home to two globally significant populations, Barrow’s goldeneye and western grebe.
Coyotes are well adapted to urban environments and are now a permanent fixture in the urban landscape.
At least one family of coyotes calls Stanley Park home and feeds primarily on small rodents such as the invasive eastern gray squirrels, but they have also been known to prey on Canada geese and raccoons.
Unlike raccoons, coyotes are not naturally nocturnal but have adapted to come out only at night to avoid confrontation with people.
Great blue herons
Stanley Park is home to one of the largest urban great blue heron colonies in North America.
They have been nesting at their current location at 2099 Beach Avenue since 2001 and have been documented nesting in various other locations in the park as far back as 1921.
The creation of a Stanley Park great blue heron management plan was a giant step towards the successful management of this species, which has been monitored since 2004.
Harbour seals searching for fish to feed on are a common sight from the seawall.
They can dive to 300 metres deep and an adult can hold its breath for up to 25 minutes.
People regularly assume that seal pups are orphaned or abandoned when they see them alone on beaches and intertidal zones at low tide. These little ones, however, are usually only temporarily left alone while the mother searches for food.
Raccoons have become a prominent feature of Stanley Park life with visitors stopping and taking notice of this curious scavenger.
This naturally nocturnal species has adapted its behaviour in the park to come out in the day, usually to scavenge and take handouts from park goers who want to feed them.
If you do see a raccoon in the park, please refrain from feeding it or approaching it.
Three types of squirrels can be found in Stanley Park – the eastern gray squirrel, Douglas squirrel, and the northern flying squirrel.
The abundance of invasive eastern gray squirrels are said to have originated from breeding pairs given as a gift from the Mayor of New York in 1909 and released in Stanley Park.
The eastern gray squirrel varies widely in colour from black and brown to gray.
The Douglas squirrel is reddish brown and half the size of the eastern gray. They are much less likely to approach people for food, and tend to live in more forested areas.
The northern flying squirrel is very rare. This wide eyed nocturnal marvel is gifted with the amazing ability to glide from the tree tops with the use of loose skin flaps.