Fantastic Pheasants at Bloedel!

Step into the Bloedel Conservatory and you are immediately transported into a tropical world of lush exotic greenery. Plants range from miniature orchids to towering Dragon trees and ancient cycads to Lollipop plants. But what really brings the the jungle experience to the top of Little Mountain? It’s free flying birds with their chirping and chattering and carrying on. You can watch them for hours, but it’s the Chinese Pheasants that never fail to ‘Wow’ visitors.

Two pheasants live at the Conservatory (also called Golden pheasants or Red Golden pheasants). Their kind are native to the mountainous regions of western China. And while there are 35 types of pheasants throughout the world, 27 of those species are on the rare and endangered list due to over hunting and habitat loss. Yes, believe it or not, these beautiful creatures were once considered game birds!

Chinese pheasants can fly, but these at Bloedel prefer to leisurely strut along the pathways – often with a troop of young visitors not far behind. Occasionally both birds will end up in the same place at the same time with a standoff quick to follow.

Feather patterns and colours are stunning on these 3 1/2 foot long birds. You won’t be at the conservatory for long before a flash of red or yellow in the foliage will catch your eye.  Get your cameras ready!  You’ll soon be happily moving over to make way for these fantastic pheasants.

Bloedel Conservatory – A Year in Review: 2015

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More and more people have been celebrating the Bloedel Conservatory and rediscovering the magic under the dome! Frequently heard are comments like “The Bloedel Conservatory is my new happy place” and “Bloedel is my dome away from home”. This means that the partnership and hard work of all staff and volunteers of the Park Board and the VBGA are working and headed in the right direction! At the start of every New Year, it is important to reflect on our successes and share our gratitude.

Highlights of 2015 include:

The Bloedel Roving Docent Program wrapped up it’s second successful year in 2015 and is continuing in 2016 with 18 new trainees. New docents begin training in January and undergo an intensive eight week program to learn about the world of tropical plants and birds that live under the dome – plus their bigger connection to rainforests around the world. This team of dedicated volunteers has been a tremendous asset to the Conservatory, heightening the visitor experience by sharing the incredible stories at Bloedel with guests. They are on hand every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am – 4pm.

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Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator Cowan Tetrapod Collection, UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum giving a presentation to Bloedel Roving Docents.

A number of successful events took place throughout the year at the Conservatory and surrounding Queen Elizabeth Park:

Family Fun on Family Day: Activities included bird talks, ladybug and butterfly releases (including information about why they are good for your garden), opportunities to feed the finches, as well as a Tropical Adaptations station that provided information about unique strategies rainforest plants use to survive in this unique climate.

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Joshua Yu, Owner of Metamorphic Butterfly Farms, giving demo about the life cycle of butterflies on Family Day.

A Special Mother’s Day Celebration: Vancouver Orchid Society specialist Margaret Pratt shared examples from the spectacular world of orchids and discussed their care; craft tables for kids where set up where children could plant a starter herb and create their own Mother’s Day card; and artists from the Katami Design Studio designed special Bloedel Conservatory jewellery just for the occasion.

orchid combo

Orchids left to right: Lady Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), Dancing Ladies (Oncidium), Butterfly orchid (Psychopsis papilio)

National Garden Days: For the first time in Vancouver, five incredible public gardens united to offer a special Vancouver Garden Pass for the National Garden Days celebration. Just in time for Father’s Day, garden aficionados could visit the Bloedel Conservatory, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Sun Yat Sen Classic Chinese Garden, Nitobe Memorial Garden and UBC’s Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research all on one pass.

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Queen Elizabeth Park’s 75th Anniversary: More than 20,000 people came out to celebrate QE Park’s 75th Anniversary! Free concerts, aerial acrobatics of CircusWest and activities including Pickleball, Pitch & Putt, entrance to the Bloedel Conservatory and $5 Zipline rides filled the park with music and entertainment throughout the day. Over the course of the summer and fall, the QE Park Zipline, constructed and operated by Greenheart International FlightLinez, saw over 25,000 thrill seekers zoom over the Large Quarry Garden gaining incredible views of Vancouver. It operated for 87 days, 7 days a week and generated $334,787 total revenue with partial proceeds going to Children’s charities including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Toy Mountain 2015, and Variety – The Children’s Charity. The Bloedel Conservatory also experienced a boost in attendance with a discount extended to Zipline riders.

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Vancouver Park Board Vice Chair, Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung and Chair, Commissioner John Coupar at QE Park’s 75th Anniversary

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Crowds enjoying QE Park, the Bloedel Conservatory and the best views of Vancouver during the Park’s 75th Anniversary

Enchanted Nights: New this year, a world of whimsy and magic at the Bloedel Conservatory is wowing visitors with artisan sprite villages, hand-blown glass, Fairy Queens and unicorn rides.

Bloedel Lights

Bloedel Conservatory and Fountain lit up for Enchanted Nights Holiday Show

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Fairy Queen Tatianna greeting young visitor at Enchanted Night’s

In this holiday attraction for all ages, patrons can walk through a miniature world of fantasy with magical lights, holiday music, and live entertainment set amongst the dome’s tropical plants and exotic birds. Displays have been created by Corey Cote, the Enchanted Forest Collective, Christopher Moreno of 365 Productions, Melissa Hume of Dirty Clay Studios, and Benjamin Kikkert of New-Small & Sterling Studio Glass. Hurry while you can! Enchanted Nights at Bloedel is open until January 3rd, from 4 pm to 9 pm.

enchanted nights combo

With all the extra light created by the New Roof Renovation in 2014, the Conservatory experienced stunning new blossoms in 2015 including African Popcorn plants, plate-sized hibiscus, a variety of gingers and Mysore Trumpet Vines.

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Bloedel Conservatory’s completed roof renovation

V.Earle orange hibiscus

This year also welcomed a number of new birds to the flock. Blanca, the Umbrella Cockatoo loves visitors, often fanning her crest and showing off her great dance moves. Diamond Doves add to the melodies under the dome with their gorgeous ‘wood-flute’ sounding songs, while the new Chinese Pheasant, Roul Roul Partridges, Bourke’s parakeets and variety of finches add colour and entertainment around the feeding station.

new bird combo 2015

Clockwise left to right: Blanca, the Umbrella Cockatoo, Chinese Pheasant, Shaft-tailed finch, Diamond Dove, Roul Roul Partridges

And for the first time, the Bloedel Conservatory joined the Pollinator Project and introduced Mason Bees into the lush iconic dome. Unlike Honey Bees that live and work in a community, Mason Bees are solitary. Because there is no Queen bee, they do not sting. This makes the Mason Bee ideal for public places.

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Mason bee (Osmia cornifrons). Photo by Beatriz Moisset, Creative Commons

On that note, please accept our appreciation and sincere thanks to you as a supporter of the Bloedel Conservatory. Whether you have joined us at events, generously donated, or simply shared our commitment to reinvigorate the Conservatory and re-engage with the community, our mission is made that much more attainable knowing that we have your support! Thank you and Happy New Year!

 

 

Enjoy Mother’s Day at the Bloedel Conservatory!

Red canary posing for the camera

The Bloedel Conservatory is now on Summer Hours – and just in time for Mother’s Day!

Why not treat Mom to a stroll through the magical Bloedel Conservatory, our green jewel at the highest point in Vancouver? Our chatty parrots and free flying exotic birds are sure to delight Mom and the whole family! That’s one of the surprising and best features of the Conservatory.  You can get up close to the stunning birds! See Clyde, the rare Eastern Rosella Parrot, while many of the Zebra finches, Laughing Thrushes, and colourful Chinese Pheasants wander along the pathway. Stop for a moment and listen, then see if you can spot the new Red and Bronze canaries. Their sweet melodies are truly enchanting and add a special touch to a special day. Oh yes, and we encourage you to stop and smell the flowers! The plumeria tree is now blooming!

Fragrant plumeria blossoms

The Bloedel Conservatory is fully wheelchair accessible, so it’s easy to sit close to the parrots and macaws and watch their antics or have a chat! Handy Bird Guides and Scavenger Hunts are available at the front counter. A trip to the Bloedel is a great outing for Mom and the whole family!

Bloedel Conservatory: Extended Summer Hours:

Monday – Friday: 9am – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 9pm

To round out the day, why not combine your trip to Bloedel with a picnic lunch at Queen Elizabeth Park or have brunch at Season’s in the Park Restaurant? With the best views of the city, exceptional service and Season’s Lobster Eggs Bennie, it’s a combo that that is sure to delight!

Happy Mother’s Day!

News: June – October, 2011

Bloedel Conservatory in the News: June, 2011

Ambitious three-year plan for Vancouver’s Park Board by Lara Fominoff. News 1130,  Jun 29, 2011. http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/247761–park-board-70-million-budget-shortfall-means-tough-choices

Central Park: Couch trip by Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier June 29, 2011. http://www.vancourier.com/news/Central+Park+Couch+trip/5023341/story.html#ixzz1QriohcxK

Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park Photoblog (Great photos!) by thirteen1386, June 23, 2011. http://www.myfinepix.co.uk/blog/322236/300939

Bloedel Conservatory – Vancouver ‘thing’s to do’ (video). JCVDude, June 27, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T35LcNLllDI

Bloedel Conservatory – Vancouver Orchid Society at Queen Elizabeth Park (video). JCVDude, June 26, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxhdDRsXwkI

Bloedel Floral Conservatory – Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver BC (video). JCVDude, June 26, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSQ1pJcfXKw

Green guide: Ecofriendly bug control at Bloedel by Debbie Caldwell, North Shore News June 14, 2011 http://www.nsnews.com/travel/Green+guide/4947243/story.html#ixzz1QrmTV5hW

Lefeaux’s passing a loss of knowledge by Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier June 7, 2011. http://www.vancourier.com/Lefeaux+passing+loss+knowledge/4907413/story.html#ixzz1QrnEi8qITop 10 Places You MUST Visit in Vancouver  by Teresa Gotay, June 6, 2011. http://blog.cheapoair.com/top-10/top-10-places-you-must-visit-in-vancouver.aspx

Bloedel Conservatory in the News: July, 2011

Vancouver Events Calendar: The Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, Today’s Parent, July 2011. http://events.todaysparent.com/Vancouver/View/The-Bloedel-Conservatory-in-Queen-Elizabeth-Park?date=2011-07-22

Central Park, by Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier July 22, 2011. http://www.vancourier.com/news/Central+Park/5142195/story.html

Golden Pheasant Cape Display, by Friends of Bloedel July 21, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nyQdZTQdRA

Chinese Pheasant at Bloedel Conservatory (video), by on Jul 16, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecWbEmYczv0

Bloedel Conservatory (video), by on Jul 7, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTi3BGJx5f8

Sylvester the Silver Pheasant (video), by Friends of Bloedel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyiKm6opNBc&NR=1

Bloedel Conservatory in the News: September, 2011

Bloedel Conservatory (beautiful pictures!). myWebbsite.ca, September 25, 2011. http://mywebbsite.ca/tag/bloedel-conservatory/

Bloedel Conservatory in the News: October, 2011

Bloedel Exotic Birds Floral Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park (video). World News, Inc., October, 2011 http://wn.com/Bloedel_Exotic_Birds_Floral_Conservatory_and_Queen_Elizabeth_Park

Bloedel Floral Conservatory. fraeuleinfirlefanz A Travel Blog, October 19, 2011. http://fraeuleinfirlefanz.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/1020/

Green guide. By Debbie Caldwell, North Shore News October 12, 2011 http://www.nsnews.com/life/Green+guide/5536630/story.html#ixzz1dBIY4qPn

6 Top Reasons to Visit the Jewel Box of Lights!

“Bloedel is a Jewel Box as are the stars, and at Queen Elizabeth Park, you can almost touch the heavens on a clear night” ~ T. Clark

#1:  It’s Warm Inside!

Take a break from the rainy winter weather outside! Step inside, shed your rain jacket and take in the lush tropical wonderland. It’s like a mini-trip to a Costa Rica without the expense of a plane ticket!

#2: The new expanded Light Display is magical!

The staff at Bloedel pulled out all the stops for the 41st Anniversary of the Conservatory! The tropical plant kingdom under the dome has been transformed into a glowing magical masterpiece! Twinkling waterfalls of lights and special laser effects are a must see this year. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate from The Blue Parrot Coffee Hut outside and come in to enjoy the show. To see the lights at their full brilliance, plan a visit at 4 pm or later. Extended hours are in effect until January 2nd: Sunday – Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm; Friday – Saturday 10 am – 9 pm.

#3: It’s Unique!

“I’ve walked around this pathway multiple times today and I see something new every single time!”

This was a common comment from visitors last Sunday at our Opening Event! The gardeners at Bloedel have worked very hard to keep plant displays top notch this season. Just like a real rainforest, there is so much to see! Not only are the lights spectacular,  but look high up in the trees! See real papaya, figs and bananas growing, then see if you can find the poinsettias with rhinestones on the tips of their petals. Of course the free flying birds are always on the move, so you are likely to spot one that you have not seen before.

#4: The Conservatory is great for kids of all ages!

Children and seniors especially love Bloedel because you can get up close to the beautiful and exotic birds! See Clyde, the rare Eastern Rosella Parrot, happily munch an apple at the feeding station, while many of the Zebra finches, Laughing Thrushes, and colourful Chinese Pheasants wander along the pathway. Perfect to stop and take photos of our beautiful feathered friends. And we encourage you to stop and smell the flowers!

Bloedel is fully wheelchair accessible, so it’s easy to sit close to the parrots and macaws and watch their antics or have a chat! Handy Bird Guides and Scavenger Hunts are available at the front counter. A trip to Bloedel is a great outing for the whole family!

#5: Destress during the holidays!

Feeling exhausted and stressed from holiday preparations? Did you know Bloedel is a healing garden? Not only are the festive lights a joy to look at, but hearing the sound of the waterfall, the birds happily chattering, and taking in the warmth and greenery of the dome will naturally unwind and relax you. Studies show spending time in gardens and green space not only lowers your blood pressure, but it actually decreases stress hormones in your body! Come for a visit, find a bench, take a deep breath and re-charge your energy!

#6: The price is right!

This is the best admission price in the city of Vancouver! $5.35 for Adults; Seniors & Youth $3.75; Kids 6-12  $2.70; Preschoolers – Free. Be sure to enter from the 33rd and Ontario Street entrance to avoid the construction.


The Jewel Box of Lights Event runs until January 2nd, 2011

Sunday – Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm

Friday – Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm

Come in and see us today!

Bloedel is for the Birds!

There are new feathered friends at Bloedel!

Star Finch (male)

The Conservatory is alive with new melodious songs and exotic sights! Many of our new feathered friends are waxbill finches, named for their bright red cone shaped bills that are similar to the colour of sealing wax. Timbrado and Roller canaries are also stretching their wings and their lovely vocals are enhancing the ambiance of the dome. And let’s not forget Sylvester! The handsome new Silver Pheasant!

Star Finch

Star Finch (female)

The Star Finch is native to Australia where it can be found in grasslands and dry savannas. The males are olive in colour with a large red face mask and star-like spots over his chest and neck (click here for video). Females have less colour on the face and no red on the chin.

Red Ear-striped & Orange Cheeked Waxbills

Red Ear-striped Waxbill (L), Orange Cheeked Waxbill (R)

Red Ear-striped Waxbill

These birds are native to Africa, preferring to live in the grasslands, marshes and open areas with thorn scrub. Both males and females are easily identified by their crimson eye mask.

Orange Cheeked Waxbill

This small bird, also native to Africa, relies on grasses for food, shelter and nest building in the wild. They are also insectivorous, eating gnats, aphids, fruit flies and termites. The males have a very melodious song and is the easiest way to tell males from females.

Cordon Bleu Finch

Cordon Bleu Finch

Cordon Bleu finch

These small waxbills are also native to Africa. Unlike some species, both males and females will sing. The females are a slightly duller blue than the males. Here is a video of the little Cordon Blue Finch having breakfast.

Cut Throat Finch

Cut Throat Finch

Cut Throat Finch

Also known as the Ribbon or Bearded finch, both sexes are light gray and tan with speckles, but the male is easily recognized by the swash of red under his chin. These finches are native to Africa, living on the Savannah, bush and farmland. Favorite foods are live food (mealy worms), millet and fruit.

Green Singing Finch

Green Singing finch

Green Singing Finch

This finch is native to central Africa and is slightly smaller than a canary. Females have a ring of black dots around their necks. It is said the Green Singing Finch has a lighter, more delicate and higher pitched song than canaries and sing frequently throughout the day.

Canaries

Roller Canaries

Canary

The Conservatory is now also home to a variety of new canaries thanks to the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary. Canaries are native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. You will be able to see both Roller Canaries (both all yellow and a mixture of yellows, cream and brown) and Timbrado Canaries. While both have lovely songs, the Timbrado has a greater range of notes. Originally imported to Spain from the Canary Islands during the 1400s, the Spanish Timbrado Canary began to be bred in Spain in the 1940s and 50s. Only the male canaries of both species sing, which is the only way to tell them apart from females.

Timbrado canary

Silver Pheasant

Sylvester, the Silver Pheasant

Sylvester, the Silver Pheasant

And let’s not forget Sylvester! There are 15 subspecies of Silver Pheasants, with the True Silver Pheasant being the largest of them all. The striking white feathers of the male are laced with delicate black  patterns (see video). The legs and face wattles are red. Silver Pheasants are considered common in mountainous areas of Southeast China and have been successfully introduced into Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Some references say this Pheasant is well known in ancient Chinese art and poetry and was sometimes referred to as the White Phoenix.

If you did not find the birds you were looking for on this post, please take a look at A Quick Guide to the Birds of Bloedel. All of our feathered friends are a great reason to head to the Conservatory for a visit. They would love to meet you!

References

Hinze, I. (1999). Differentiating the Red Eye-striped waxbill. http://www.finchworld.com/Birds/Finch/Waxbill/red_eye_striped/differentiating_the_red_eye.htm

Bonnici, O. (nd). The Orange Cheeked Waxbill. http://www.petngarden.com/birds/voucher/voucherb11.php

Beckham, R. (2011). The Cutthroat Finch. http://www.efinch.com/species/cutthroat.htm

Honolulu Zoo (2008). Green Singing Finch, Serinus Mozambicushttp://www.honoluluzoo.org/green_singing_finch.htm

Cowell, D. (2009). Silver Pheasant, Lophura nycthemera. http://www.gbwf.org/pheasants/silver.html