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Festival bringing bevy of bird events to Vancouver

Vancouver will celebrate all things bird next month with the 27th International Ornithological Congress and first ever Vancouver International Bird Festival
bird fest events
Vancouver is hosting the 27th International Ornithological Congress and the inaugural Vancouver International Bird Festival Aug. 19-26. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Vancouver is hosting the 27th International Ornithological Congress and the inaugural Vancouver International Bird Festival Aug. 19-26.

While the city will be all about the birds that week, organizers have also put together a myriad of bird-related events in the weeks running up to the congress and festival.

Pre-festival events

As the Crow Flies Nesting Nests: Weave a bird’s nest with chART artists Jaymie Johnson and Cameron Cartiere. Your nest along with hundreds of others woven by community members will be used to create a large-scale, temporary sculpture called Nesting Nests, which will be installed on the Arbutus Greenway in August. Aug. 1 at the Kerrisdale Community Centre from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives: This Museum of Vancouver exhibit delves into the life stories of local animals and plants — how they connect with each other and how people connect with nature in the city. Stories of encounters with wildlife will be told through the eyes of biologists, psychologists, urban planners, Indigenous people and Vancouver-based nature lovers. Scenic design, videos, taxidermy, crowd sourcing technologies and the display of natural specimens will help bring these stories to life. The immersive nature of the exhibition environment combined with hands-on activities will encourage people to reflect on and engage in a mutualistic relationship with nature. Created in partnership with Nature Vancouver. Runs until September 2019.

Birds on Film: Science World is offering a summer-long series of bird films from around the world at the centre’s Science Theatre. Check out the detailed schedule at Runs until Aug. 26.

Talbot Kelly Bird Paintings: View the bird imagery by the late R.B. Talbot Kelly at the West End Community Centre. Runs until Aug. 17.

Bird of the 604: Birds of the 604 and the Vancouver Bird Strategy will be on display at the VanDusen Botanical Garden Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. The exhibition created by students of Langara’s Design Formation program partnered with Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to illustrate bird friendly building and landscape design.

Albatross are way cool: Learn about the albatross and its relatives with Ildiko Szabo, assistant curator at Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of B.C. See real albatross specimens of all sizes for a 4D experience of these ocean wanderers. Aug. 5 1-2 p.m. at Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC (2212 Main Mall).

25th Anniversary Photo Exhibition: Enjoy walks along the scenic trails of the Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats along Burrard Inlet, and come inside the Corrigan Nature House for activities and storytelling. Coast Salish Duck Stories with Dee & Iggy George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Miracle on the Mudflats children’s tales, and The Wise Owl stories, plus Children’s art-making; Native Plant Sale; Information tables; hot soup, fruit pies and Coast Salish teas. Aug. 11 to Sept. 30.

Festival Preview at Vancouver Public Library: Join us for a preview of the many bird events that will be on offer over the coming week during the inaugural Vancouver International Bird Festival and the 27th International Ornithological Congress. Meet Vancouver’s Official City Bird , enjoy birds on stilts, presentations, exhibits, bird artists working with children, Unveiling of the Artist for Conservation Student Silent Skies and more! Aug. 18 2-5 p.m. at the VPL Central Branch.

Festival Events

Aug. 19

Bird Festival Day in North Vancouver: Join the District of North Vancouver’s Environmental Protection staff at Cates Park (4141 Dollarton Hwy.) for a fun, bird-tastic day! Participate in a number of family-friendly activities, including a scavenger hunt that will encourage you to explore the natural ecology of Cates Park. Learn how the District manages bird populations in the urban environment and how you can help. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Aug. 20

Festival Opening Ceremony – Parade of Birds and a fanfare by Vancouver Symphony Brass Quintet: The festival begins with a Parade of Birds and a fanfare by the Vancouver Symphony Brass Quintet. The fanfare “Gathering Flock” was composed by Frederick Schipizky. 3:20 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Bird Festival Day at Grouse Mountain: As part of the Vancouver International Bird Festival, the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife will be showcasing a variety of bird-focused demonstrations and activities – all included with the mountain admission ticket. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Words Rising, Birds Rising – A Coast Salish Artists Residency: Vancouver Park Board, in partnership with the Roundhouse Community Centre and the Vancouver International Bird Festival, is inviting three artists, one each from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations to work on site at the Roundhouse for two weeks as artists in residence. The focus of the project is to bring an Indigenous lens to understanding local birds. The artists are Christie Lee Charles, Wil George and Charlene George. The project is curated by Kamala Todd. Runs until Aug. 29 at Roundhouse Exhibition Hall 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Opening reception and presentations are on Friday, Aug. 24 from 6-9 p.m.

Aug. 21

As the Crow Flies: Keep your eyes open for As the Crow Flies, a community-engaged public art project that brings creative connections to urban birds directly into the hands of the citizens of Vancouver. As the Crow Flies is a 10-kilometer community public art project consisting of several artworks along the on the Arbutus Greenway. With this project, the chART Fieldhouse team is taking a creative approach to highlighting the concerning loss of bird species and the real actions individuals can take to improve the odds for our feathered neighbours. Runs until Aug. 26.

Bird Festival Day at Museum of Vancouver: MOV and Nature Vancouver present Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives, an exhibition that delves into the life stories of local animals and plants—how they connect with each other and how people connect with nature in the city. 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Little Mountain Improv: Birdstravaganza: Join Little Mountain Improv as they celebrate the Vancouver International Bird Festival with a bird-themed comedy improvisation show! Come on out and give your best bird-themed suggestions to the group as they act out skits “on the fly” celebrating our quirky feathered friends. Tickets $5 at the door. 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at Little Mountain Comedy Department (195 East 26 Ave.)

Aug. 22

Artists for Conservation Show: Artists for Conservation is the official visual arts partner for the festival and congress, showcasing some of the world’s best nature art through its annual juried exhibit, a collaborative mural, artist demo and lecture series and an artist booth expo. Official opening 6-10 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Bird Festival Day at Science World: Events include the North American premiere of Bird of Prey, an award-winning film about the world’s largest and rarest eagle, followed by a Q&A with members of the film and research team, presented by Science World, Vancouver International Bird Festival and Cornell University. Starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Science Theatre.  As well as the Getting into Birding presentation with Jody Allair of Bird Studies Canada, which tackles the what, where, why and how of birding. Starts at 12:20 p.m. at Centre Stage.

Return of the Hipster Birdwatcher: Calling all closet birders and nature-curious to join Return of the Hipster Birder, a laid back nature walk, hosted by EyeLoveBirds, around Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon. Targeted at non-birders and while offering tips on identification and interesting facts on our local species along the way, the event is mostly a casual, social and fun get together for Vancouver locals. There will be a mini-competition as well (think scavenger hunt for birds). All attendees will get the EyeLoveBirds Vancouver bird app for free on their iPhone, as well as a printed checklist of the common birds of Stanley Park. 7-9 p.m. starting at Stanley Park Nature House (712 Lost Lagoon Path).

Aug. 23

Bird Festival Day at VanDusen Gardens: VanDusen’s Backyard Bird Garden officially opened in March and has become quite a hub of bird activity since then! Drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. for a morning of hands-on activities to learn more about the birds that frequent VanDusen such as spotted towhees, barred owls, Anna’s hummingbirds and others. Grab a scavenger hunt when you arrive, then join us in the Bird Garden to guess what nest was made by which bird, play Bird Bingo and “eat like a bird”. All activities are free for VBGA members or with garden admission. Participants will also receive a free pass to the Ornithological Congress children’s day. Recommended for families with children ages 4 – 10.

Nature & Bird Expo: The three-day Bird Expo is the showcase of birds and nature in Canada, including exhibitors, speakers, yoga, poetry, art and more. Runs until Aug. 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Check out a full event listing at

Science Tours: Get an in-depth view of science in action guided by students from Simon Fraser University with a chance to see a research poster session, attend a scientific talk and chat with ornithologists from around the world. Tours run 3:30-4:15 p.m. Aug. 23 and 25. Check out more at

Migration Songs – Poetry and Ornithology: Migration Songs brings together 11 contemporary poets to consider an array of bird species. Each poet was put in conversation with a particular ornithologist or scientist to consider their chosen species collaboratively. The poets involved include well-known west-coast authors, amongst them Governor General’s Award and Griffin Poetry Prize winners. A short book of these collaborations, Migration Songs, with cover art by poet, painter, and weaver Annie Ross, will be available. 6 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Unveiling of the Silent Skies Mural: A signature event of the week-long Artists for Conservation show is the unveiling of the Silent Skies mural made up of illustrations of the endangered birds of the world — 678 pieces, each depicting a different endangered bird, will make up the 100-foot-long installation that will form the artistic centrepiece for the 8th annual Artists for Conservation Festival, the 27th International Ornithological Congress and Vancouver International Bird Festival. The unveiling takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Aug. 24

Stewardship Roundtable 2018: A forum and showcase of innovative practices championed in B.C. province and beyond, presented by the Stewardship Centre for BC and Bird Studies Canada, in collaboration with the 27th International Ornithological Congress and Vancouver International Bird Festival. 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For more information or to register, visit

Aug. 25

12th Annual Osprey Festival: Featuring workshops, guided walks, various speakers, live music, children’s entertainment and food, the festival takes place throughout the Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats 2649 Dollarton Hwy). The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Birds and Yoga: Join us for a wonderful outdoor yoga practice with the North Shore Mountains as the back drop! From eagles to crows, birds and nature have inspired yoga philosophies and practices for centuries. Join us for a one hour bird-inspired yoga class that will explore the bird, wildlife, and nature imagery and inspiration present in yoga. The class will be led by ornithologist and certified yoga instructor Kate Fremlin and certified yoga instructor Tracy Groshak.  This class is suitable for all levels, including those new to yoga. Please bring your own yoga mat and water. The class starts at 9 a.m. at Jack Poole Plaza. Register at

Dawn Chorus: Each morning near sunrise during the breeding season of birds, the countryside awakes to the Dawn Chorus of bird songs. Experience the beauty and meaning of the chorus of birds with John Neville, a life-long birder who has produced 18 CD’s of bird song for education and pleasure. John has given hundreds of talks across Canada, the U.S. and England to teach bird song, protect avian habitat and give listening pleasure to bird enthusiasts. 10 a.m. at the Community Theatre.

Children’s Bird Festival Day: Join us at the Nature & Bird Expo for great interactive children’s programming. Discover the world of bugs and birds through crafts, educational activities and live exhibits. Activities include: making bird puppets, building birdhouses, learning how to identify birds, learning to play drums in the Drumming Circle, First Nations performers and wood carvers. 10 a.m. until noon at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Aug. 26

Closing Ceremony: The closing ceremony will include remarks from officials and First Nations representatives, and a Heron Dance by the New Dance Centre from Saskatchewan. 5-6:30 p.m. at Vancouver Convention Centre.

Stanley Park Ecology Society is hosting a variety of workshops and tours throughout the congress and festival. Check out all the details here.

Stars of the Bird World

There are also a number of special Stars of the Bird World presentations planned. All presentations will take place at the Bird Theatre in the Bird Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For more information or to purchase tickets go to

Birds for Peace – A team started by an Israeli ornithologist working for the country’s air force. For the past 20 years he’s been working with a Palestinian ornithologist through the auspices of a Jordanian general and a French scientist, bringing together Palestinian, Bedouin and Israeli youth in conflict zones to work on bord conservation. Aug. 23 7-8:30 pm.

Purnima Barman – The 2017 winner of the Whitley Award, also known as the Green Oscars, and the 2018 winner of Nari Shakti Purakar, the highest civilian award for women in India, Barman is an advocate working with women and their communities across Indian for stork conservation. Aug. 24 7-9 p.m.

Jennifer Ackerman – an American science writer and author of The Genius of Birds, which looks at how the brains of birds are different, and more powerful, than the human brain. Aug. 25 7-9 p.m.

Dr. Rob Butler - chair of the Vancouver International Bird Festival, presents Flyways to Culture: How birds give rise to a cultural awakening, at look at how the growing interest in birds in particular and nature in general, is a foundation for a new Nature Culture in which nature becomes embedded into a west coast culture. Aug. 19 8:30-10 a.m. Admission by donation ($10 suggested).

Take a Tour

Tours of significant bird areas in the host city and country are a usual feature of the International Ornithological Congress but organizers in Vancouver decided to open the tours up to the public.

Over 50 tours are planned — from day trips in and around the Lower Mainland to multi-day excursions to Haida Gwaii, the Okanagan and Vancouver Island.

For more information, or to sign up for a tour, visit

For more information and a full event listings visit