Professor Dov Lank speaks at the International Ornithological Congress today and maintains the world's largest ruff aviary at SFU.

issues and experts

International Bird Congress takes flight in Vancouver

August 21, 2018

Vancouver is going to the birds this week thanks to a team of high-flying Simon Fraser University researchers who are among the key organizers of the International Ornithological Congress, bringing more than 2,000 international avian experts to town for the week (until Aug. 26). The conference, which happens every four years, was first held more than 130 years ago and is being held for the only the second time in Canada—and the first along the Pacific Coast of the the Americas.

The SFU team has spent the past five years preparing to stage the conference and related events in the city. SFU adjunct professor Bob Elner is the event’s convener while biology professors David Green and Tony Williams, both veteran bird experts, are organizers and part of the scientific program committee, that was tasked with screening through nearly 1,000 submitted abstracts.  

Among highlights, conservationists Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson deliver a keynote address tonight at a special event (6-10 p.m.).

Other SFU experts include biologist Ron Ydenberg, presenting Thursday, August 23, on continental-scale raptor recovery and impacts on migrant shorebirds , and SFU adjunct professor John Elliott (Environment Canada) who will contribute to a symposium he is organizing on Avian Ecotoxicology in the Anthropocene: 50 Years since Silent Spring.

Meanwhile Rob Butler, an SFU adjunct professor and also an alumnus (and an Outstanding Alumni Award recipient in 1998) is organizing the Vancouver International Bird Festival. Butler is a former senior research scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. He is currently coordinating the British Columbia Bird Atlas with Bird Studies Canada, and is known for his decades of work on shorebird migration and heron ecology.

More than a dozen SFU biology graduate students are also being supported by the Department of Biological Sciences to present their research.

For more details about the Congress and related activities, see:


Diane Mar-Nicolle, Communications Manager, Faculty of Science, 778.782.9586,


About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 150,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


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