Delta is perhaps best known for its wetland, estuarine and upland habitats that support the largest wintering populations of waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey in Canada. Up to five million migratory birds use the Fraser River Estuary and Delta as a vital stopover on the Pacific Flyway. Boundary Bay and its adjacent uplands represent the most significant migratory waterfowl and shorebird habitat on Canada's Pacific Coast. For information about birds in Delta, view the Birds in Delta and Experience Birding in Delta guides.
As a result, the lands and waters of the Fraser River Estuary have received a number of noteworthy designations:
- Boundary Bay, Roberts Bank and the South Arm Marshes are provincial Wildlife Management Areas
- The Alaksen National Wildlife Area is located on Delta's Westham Island
- The estuary was declared an Important Bird Area in 2001 and is recognized as the most significant out of 597 such sites in Canada
- The Fraser River foreshore and selected provincial and federally owned lands were designated as a Hemisphere Reserve in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2004
- On September 22, 2012, The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands announced the designation of the new Fraser River Delta Ramsar Site, which includes Burns Bog, the Wildlife Management Areas of Sturgeon Bank, South Arm Marshes, Boundary Bay, Serpentine, and the former Alaksen Ramsar Site on Westham Island.as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance, the highest designation for the protection of wetlands.
Also within Delta is the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary, one of Canada's top bird watching areas.
Raptors and most other birds are protected in British Columbia under Section 34 of the BC Wildlife Act. The bird nesting season is generally from March 1–August 31. Some raptors, including eagles, nest as early as February 1.
Eggs and raptor nest trees are protected year round under BC Wildlife Act. If you wish to remove or modify a raptor nest tree or a bird nest with eggs/young, you must seek permission and obtain a written permit from the Ministry of Environment’s Permit & Authorization Service Bureau. You may also require a federal permit under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and should check with Environment Canada.
Some species of birds are considered game birds. The annual Hunting Regulation Synopsis outlines hunting seasons and bag limits.
Birds & Biodiversity Conservation Strategy
The community of Delta is home to a large range of ecosystems and wildlife. The implementation of a Delta Birds and Biodiversity Conservation Strategy presents an opportunity to review Delta’s existing policies, programs, and bylaws for opportunities to build upon. Having one strategy that ties together current efforts and identifies new initiatives will provide focus and clarity across departments and will reduce the duplication of efforts and resources, and missed opportunities. The development of the Strategy has been informed though discussions with the Delta Naturalists Society, environmental community groups, agricultural community, tourism and business associations, federal and regional government staff and Delta staff from multiple departments. The strategies and actions give an action orientated document that meets Delta’s mandates and goals. Read the full council report and strategy.
Vision: Delta’s globally significant bird populations, unique biodiversity, and ecological functions are protected and enhanced for future generations.
Mission: Our community collaborates to identify, protect, promote, enhance and monitor habitat and biodiversity within urban, agricultural, industrial, and natural areas.
- Delta’s habitats are protected, enhanced and resilient;
- The community understands and values Delta’s natural resources;
- Collaborative partnerships are fostered with a shared vision for biodiversity protection and enhancement;
- Delta and the Fraser River Estuary are established as a world-class centre for birds and biodiversity; and
- Delta works to conserve its heritage as a working landscape that is significant for birds and biodiversity.
The term “biodiversity” refers to the variety of species and ecosystems and the ecological processes of which they are a part. The three components of biodiversity are ecosystem, species and genetic diversity. In British Columbia, the Lower Mainland is a biodiversity “hot spot” and the landscape of Delta contributes significantly to the region’s biodiversity. Having good biodiversity across the landscape means that ecosystems are sufficiently intact, a range of native species exist, and that species population dynamics are healthy. While healthy natural environments support diversity, so can a backyard garden or a green roof. Ecosystem diversity contributions can be scaled from small urban backyard gardens up to a whole watershed. A biologically diverse landscape tends to be healthier because the diversity makes ecosystems more resilient to damaging changes. These damages can be natural, like a dry summer, and/or anthropogenic such as a spill of hazardous materials.
With over 275 species and millions of migratory birds using the Fraser River Estuary and Delta as a vital stopover on the Pacific Flyway this area is Canada’s Number 1 Important Bird Area. Boundary Bay and its adjacent uplands represent the most significant migratory waterfowl and shorebird habitat on Canada's Pacific Coast.