Vancouver Avian Research Centre

.....Research - Conservation - Education

Visit Us

VARC operates with a wide open door policy regarding public visitation but due to the number of individual and group visits we ask that all visits be scheduled in advance. This is also to address potential liability issues in the area in which we are banding. Large group visits are typically scheduled well in advance.

When visiting the station visitors are invited to observe the banding, ask questions and take photographs and hold and release birds under the close supervision of the Bander-in-charge.

Visitors are not permitted to walk the net lanes, unless invited and attended by the station Bander-in-charge. Visitors often are invited to walk the net lanes during net checks, but only on a case by case basis, depending on the volume of birds being processed, the number of visitors, and weather conditions. The safety and welfare of every bird is always our top priority at all times.

Please keep in mind that the station is operational on weekends and selected weekdays from April 1st - October 31st and at weekends only during the winter months (November - March).

Full details of site visits together with directions to the station can be found in our site visit overview brochure by clicking here:
Site Visits

For more information on any of VARC's visitor programs or to schedule a visit, please contact VARC.

"Hello Derek - Just wanted to send a note of thanks to you and all your team for a great visit to the banding station! Feedback from our members was very positive and one person even suggested that we should make it an annual event. We learned a lot about the issues and causes of decreasing bird populations as well as a few suggestions for helping birds find habitat, no matter even if it’s a small backyard! We really enjoyed the visits to the nets to see how the process works and how careful everyone was in handling the birds. And, of course, we loved the close-up views of our favourite songbirds! Couldn’t ask for more to make a birder’s day! When do you take bookings for next year?

Thanks very much!

Lori Austin - Burke Mountain Naturalists

VARC Visitor Programs

University and Colleges - Please click here: University and College Program

Youth Groups - Please click here: Youth Group Program

School Groups - Please visit our Education page.

Family Days   NEW!

To accommodate the increasing number of parents with children who wish to visit the banding station VARC has developed a Family Day to provide parents and children with an engaging and interactive educational experience, fostering awareness and appreciation of birds and the environment.

Family Day Dates (2015)

            May 09

             June 20

             July 11

             August 22

The program is a structured morning field trip to VARC’s Colony Farm Banding Station where participants are introduced to the research techniques required for monitoring migratory birds and the population ecology and ecosystem dynamics of wild bird populations, in an age specific way. Parents and children will learn about bird migration; the various habitats and communities they depend on during both spring and fall migration and the breeding season; and the conservation actions required to protect these habitats to ensure the long term survival of bird species.

The structure of site visit starts with a short talk when visitors arrive to tell them who we are, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Participants are then invited to watch the banding, take photos and ask questions. We then supervise while each visitor gets the opportunity to hold and release a bird. At the end of the visit we give another short talk about habitat conservation and the importance of safeguarding areas like Colony Farm for breeding and migratory birds. We also provide visitors with information on how they can help to make a difference by creating bird friendly gardens and campuses; by preventing window strikes and by putting up feeders and nest boxes.

Details of our Family Day Program are available by clicking the link below:

Family Day Program

"My kids come away from Family Day inspired and very, very enthusiastic about birds and bird conservation. They spent that afternoon playing "banding station" with their Audubon bird stuffies. I heard them more than once shout, "Its a re-trap!". They are both asking when they can go back. What could be better than that?!"

Krista De Groot - Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS)

In order for us to ensure the safety and welfare of birds the number of people attending Family Days must be controlled and only people who are registered will be allowed to attend. To schedule a Family Day visit please send an email with the names of family members who wish to attend: contact VARC.

Colony Farm

VARC’s main field station is in Colony Farm Regional Park (Park), a 404 hectare park consisting in part of old field habitat which is unique in the lower mainland of Vancouver. The park is managed by MetroVancouver (MV) who are developing and implementing a sustainability plan for the park to integrate sustainable food systems, wildlife, recreation and community. With more than 345,000 visitors a year it is one of the busiest parks in the Vancouver Regional Parks system. The banding station is located in the wildlife designated fields known as Wilson’s Farm North.

In 2011 MV implemented a Tidal Flow Restoration and Habitat Enhancement Project as part of the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement (PMH1) Project, under the Province’s Gateway Program, which will improve roads and bridges for people, goods and transit throughout Metro Vancouver. As part of the PMH1 Project, significant wetland and riparian habitat restoration/enhancement was implemented within the park. The habitat enhancements undertaken in the Wilson’s Farm area were designed to benefit overall ecological diversity while still protecting the old-field habitat important for breeding and migratory birds.

Wilson’s Farm is an area within the Park that was historically farmed and is important habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife. The old-fields and hedgerows provide habitat for a wide diversity of birds including locally rare and uncommon species such as Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena), Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor), Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) and Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis). The avifauna within the region is particularly rich with a total of more than 400 species of birds documented, 250 of which occur annually.



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