January 17th, 2021

‘Avian Summer’ debuts this week

By Jensen, Randy on June 22, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


A local filmmaker and wildlife photographer has spent over two years documenting a variety of species in southern Alberta, and is ready to release the film to local audiences while supporting the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.

Rick Andrews has spent over a decade photographing and videoing animals across Canada and within Alberta as a passion and career. His new film, “Avian Summer,” takes viewers on a journey through southern Alberta to witness the lifecycle of many bird species.

“It is one of those things where I follow species and go back to them again and show their progression,” says Andrews.

“Some of the mountain bluebirds and tree swallows, it is a very short period of time, about three to four weeks where they hatch to the time they fledge, whereas some of the other birds such as hawks and eagles, it takes much longer, almost the entire season for them to be ready to go. So depending on the species, some are quite common to film, whereas other ones I have gone back in the film to show them later in the season and into the ending of the fall.”

For over two years, Andrews filmed and produced “Avian Summer,” and in this film he only spans southern Alberta, tracking, capturing and following up with specific animals which brings some large challenges.

“This was all done by myself, and it is all filmed in southern Alberta here, everything from Waterton Lakes, Etzikom coulee, High River down to the border,” says Andrews. “The one thing about wildlife photography is there is never any guarantees. Sometimes I think that I have been lucky, but the luck also comes from knowing where to find what species in what season, and from there you can narrow it down, but it can be a bit of a crapshoot sometimes.”

The film was set to release for the first time at the Lethbridge International Film Festival in March, but two days before the premiere, it was cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now making its debut, Andrews says this is a good time for locals to learn about the environment around them.

“We were going to originally screen it at the Lethbridge International Film Festival at the Lethbridge Public Library in March and then two days before the screening the film festival was cancelled over COVID-19, but there was a lot of interest in the film back then,” says Andrews. “We didn’t have an opportunity for people to see the film in March, but now we have an opportunity to see it in your own home.”

One thing Andrews wanted to bring attention to through this film was the wide range in diversity that can be found throughout the varying landscapes in the area. Through this film, Andrews hopes people can rediscover their connection to nature.

“There is a lot more diversity in the bird species in southern Alberta that most people wouldn’t recognize. We have some avid bird-watchers that walk throughout the river valley, but this I think provides an overview of that diversity and highlights species that people in Lethbridge may have never seen,” says Andrews.

“It is always a thrill to release films to local audiences. It is nice to get local people involved, and really the idea for me doing this was to reconnect people with nature. Over the last 30 years, we seem to be losing more and more contact with our natural world, and I think that it is important that we try to maintain that contact and get people out into the great outdoors and reconnected with some of the species we have around here.”

Andrews’ film will premiere online Thursday at naturecentre.ca/aviansummer, along with an 8 p.m. livestream question-and-answer on Helen Schuler Nature Centre’s Facebook page. Proceeds from the event will go to support the Helen Schuler Nature Centre’s Growing the Grassroots Endowment Fund, which supports programming for community members. If you would like to view many of Andrews’ previous films, or find more information out about “Avian Summer,” visit vimeo.com/rickandrewsfilms.

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