Robert W. Butler

Adjunct Professor

Bird Studies Canada

Pacific Wildlife Research Centre

5421 Robertson Road

Delta, B.C. V4K 3N2







Rob Butler is a former Senior Research Scientist and biologist with Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service. One of his current projects is coordinating the British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas with Bird Studies Canada. His research specialties are avian migration, ecology and conservation where he is best known for his work on shorebird migration and heron ecology. Dr. Butler is a scientific advisor to national and international conservation organizations where he has held several executive posts. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and an Outstanding Alumnus of Simon Fraser University. Dr. Butler is a founding director of the Young Naturalists Club of British Columbia and the Pacific WildLife Foundation where he is the current President.

Dr. Butler has spoken on hundreds of occasions to audiences in environmental organizations, scientific societies, at workshops, to governments, nature clubs, education groups, festivals, and ecotour groups. Some of the places he has spoken include scientific conferences in Canada, the USA, Italy , Brazil , Taiwan , and Korea . Keynote addresses have been made at government meetings, scientific conferences, to environmental organizations and community organizations, and at education workshops.



  • Steering Committee, SFU Dialogue Centre (2008)
  • President, Pacific WildLife Foundation (since 2003)
  • Director, Young Naturalists Club (since 2000)
  • Co-Chair, Pacific Seabird Group Conference, Taiwan (2007)
  • Council, Society of Canadian Ornithologists (2005-07)
  • Co-Chair, Waterbird Society conference, Taiwan (2005)
  • Co-Chair, Canada-Taiwan Bird Fair, Vancouver (2003-2005)
  • President, Waterbird Society (2000-2002)
  • Vice-President, Waterbird Society (1998-1999)
  • Conservation Chair, Waterbird Society (1998-1999)
  • Director, Vancouver Natural History Society (c.1998-1999)
  • Council Member, Wader Study Group (c.1992-1994)


  • Fellow, American Ornithological Society (2006)
  • Associate Editor, Waterbirds (since 2006)
  • BC Book Prize Finalist (2003)
  • Presidents’ Club, Simon Fraser University (since 2000)
  • Outstanding Alumnus, Simon Fraser University (1998)
  • National Merit Award, Environment Canada (1998)
  • Award of excellence Environment Canada for The great blue heron (UBC Press) (1998)
  • Elected Member, American Ornithologists’ Union (1991)
  • Taking Wing, US Forest Service Innovative Research Award (with 3 colleagues)(1993)


·        Heron Working Group

·        Shorebird Research Group of the Americas

·        Seagrass Conservation Group

·        Young Naturalists Club of British Columbia

·        Pacific WildLife Foundation


  • Avian migration, ecology and conservation, with specialty on shorebirds and herons.


  • Canada, United States, Mexico, Panama


  • Parks Canada National Marine Science Advisory Committee
  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Ecosystem Advisory Panel
  • Environment Canada, CWS Shorebird Technical Committee
  • Environment Canada, CWS National Publication Committee
  • Environment Canada, Science and Technology Science Advisory Board
  • Heron Working Group
  • Shorebird Research Group of the Americas
  • Seagrass Conservation Group
  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
  • IUCN Heron Specialist Group


  • Parks Canada National Marine Science Advisory Committee (2007)
  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Ecosystem Advisory Panel (2007)
  • Environment Canada’s Vancouver Olympic Committee (2007)
  • Environmental assessments for developments in USA, Korea and Canada (on going)
  • Avian Diseases and Bird Migration, Tainan, Taiwan (2005)
  • Shorebird Reserve Designation in Panama, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (2004)
  • Led Hemisphere Reserve Designation for the Fraser River Delta, Canada by Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (2004)
  • Chair of Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal Selection Committee for Nature Canada (2002)
  • Technical Advisor, Canada’s Important Bird Areas Program, Birdlife International, Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada (1998-2000)


  • Explorers’ Club (Canadian Chapter), Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
  • BC Field Ornithologists Annual General Meeting
  • BC Breeding Bird Atlas launch, Delta, British Columbia
  • Conservation and Animal Welfare Science, University of British Columbia
  • Pacific Seabird Group Conference, Lukang, Taiwan
  • Imagine BC, Bowen Island
  • Waterbird Society Special Conference, Taiwan
  • Taiwan-Canada Bird Fair, Vancouver
  • Korean Ornithological Society, Gunsan, South Korea
  • Fraser Basin Council, Vancouver


Books, monographs and chapters

  • Butler , R.W. 2003. The Jade Coast : ecology of the North Pacific Ocean . Key Porter Books, Toronto (176 pp.).


  • Butler , R.W., J.A. Kushlan and I.J. Davidson. 2000. Herons in North America , Central America and the West Indies . Pages 151-176 IN: J.A. Kushlan and H. Hafner (eds.). Heron conservation. Academic Press, N.Y.


  • Butler , R.W. 1997. The Great Blue Heron. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver , 167 pp.


  • Morrison, R.I.G., R.W. Butler, F.S. Delgado and R.K. Ross. 1996. Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds and other waterbirds on the coast of Panama . Canadian Wildlife Service Special Publication, Ottawa .


  • Butler , R.W. 1995. The patient predator: foraging and population ecology of the Great Blue Heron in British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper Number 86, Ottawa . 44 pp.


  • Butler , R.W. and K. Vermeer (eds.). 1994. The abundance and distribution of waterbirds in estuaries in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper Number 83, Ottawa. 78 pp.


  • Butler , R.W. 1992. The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). IN: A. Poole, P. Stettenhiem and F. Gill, (eds.). The birds of North America. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Washington , D.C. and American Ornithologists' Union . 20pp.


Selection of scientific journal articles

·   Pomeroy, A. C., D. A. Acevedo Seaman, R. W. Butler, R. W. Elner, T. D. Williams, and R. C. Ydenberg. 2008. Feeding–danger trade-offs underlie stopover site selection by migrants. Avian Conservation and Ecology 3: 7. On line:


·        Ydenberg, R.C., R. W. Butler and D. B. Lank. 2007. Effects of predator landscapes on the evolutionary ecology of routing, timing and molt by long-distance migrants. Journal of Avian Biology 38: 523–529.

·        Kenyon, J. K., B. D. Smith and R. W. Butler. 2007. Can redistribution of breeding colonies on a landscape mitigate changing predation danger? Journal of Avian Biology 38: 541-551.

·        Pomeroy, A.C., R. W. Butler and R.C. Ydenberg. 2006. Experimental evidence that migrants adjust usage at a stopover site to trade off food and danger. Behavioral Ecology 17:1041-1045.


·       Vennesland, R. G. and R. W. Butler. 2005. Factors Influencing Great Blue Heron Nesting Productivity On The Pacific Coast Of Canada From 1998 To 1999. Waterbirds 27: 289-296. Abstract


·        Ydenberg, R., R. W. Butler , D. B. Lank & J. Ireland. 2003. Western sandpipers alter migration tactics to mitigate danger from recovering peregrine falcon populations. Proc. Roy. Soc. B, Lond. 271:1263-1269. Abstract



·        Butler , R.W., R.C. Ydenberg and D. B. Lank. 2003. Waders on a changing predator landscape. Wader Study Group Bulletin 100: 130-133. Full paper


·        Lank, D.B., R. W. Butler, J. Ireland and R.C. Ydenberg. 2003. Effects of predation danger on migratory strategies of sandpipers. Oikos 103: 303-319. Abstract



·        Butler , R.W., P. C. F. Shepherd and M.J. F. Lemon. 2003. Site fidelity and local movements of migrating Western Sandpipers on the Fraser River estuary. Wilson Bulletin 114: 693-701. Abstract


·        Ydenberg, R.C., R.W. Butler, D. B. Lank, C. Guglielmo, M. J. F. Lemon and N. Wolf. 2002. Trade-offs, condition dependence and stop over site selection by migrant sandpipers. Journal of Avian Biology 33:47-55. Abstract



·        Harris, M. L., J. E. Elliott, R. W. Butler and L. K. Wilson. 2001. Reproductive success and chlorinated hydrocarbon contamination of resident Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) from coastal British Columbia , Canada , 1977 to 2000. Environmental Pollution 121:207-227.


·        Hazlitt, S. and R. W. Butler. 2001. Site fidelity and reproductive success of Black Oystercatchers in British Columbia . Waterbirds 24:203-207. Abstract



·       Butler , R.W. and R. G. Vennesland. 2000. Integrating climate change and predation risk with wading bird conservation research in North America. Waterbirds 23: 535-540. Abstract


·       Clark, C. W. and R.W. Butler. 1999. Fitness components of avian migration: a dynamic model of western sandpiper migration. Evolutionary Ecology Research 1: 443-457. Abstract


Selection of scientific reports 


·        Morrison, R.I.G., F.S. Delgado, R.K. Ross and R.W. Butler. 1998. The distribution and abundance of Nearctic shorebirds on the coast of Panama. Pp. 12-14 In: Morrison, R.I.G., R.W. Butler, F.S. Delgado and R.K. Ross. Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds and other waterbirds on the coast of Panama. Canadian Wildlife Service Special Publication Ottawa.


·        Butler, R.W. 1996. Status report of the Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias fannini on the coast of British Columbia. Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa.


·        Butler, R.W. 1995. The international significance of the Strait of Georgia to birds. State of the Environment Report, Environment Canada, Ottawa.


·        Morrison, R.I.G., A. Bourget, R.W. Butler, H.L. Dickson, C. Gratto-Trevor, P. Hicklin, C. Hyslop and R.K. Ross. 1994. Preliminary assessment of the status of shorebirds in Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service Progr. Notes No. 208, Ottawa.


·        Vermeer, K. and R.W. Butler. 1994. The international significance and the need for environmental knowledge of estuaries. Pp. 75-76 IN: Butler, R.W. and K. Vermeer (eds.). The abundance and distribution of waterbirds in estuaries in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper Number 83, Ottawa.