June 16th, 2024

Author shares love of birds, travel, and nature


By Cal Braid - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 3, 2022.

Herald photo by Cal Braid A pileated woodpecker searches for food among the bark of a cottonwood tree Friday in the city's river valley.

The Helen Schuler Nature Centre hosted a Friday afternoon presentation featuring Chris Fisher, best known as the author of Birds of Alberta (1998). The one-hour presentation was titled Travel Adventures: Birds, A Prescription for Happiness,’ and was attended by an audience of about 50. Fisher is a Calgary-based environmental consultant, world traveller, and birdwatcher. His ties to southern Alberta are strong; he was raised in Lethbridge and stayed until the eighth grade, when his family moved away.

He was the lead author of Birds of Alberta at age 27, when he co-wrote the book with experienced naturalist John Acorn. “No matter what I do, 22 years later, I’ll never be able to shake it,” Fisher said. “It’ll probably be on my grave stone that I wrote it. It’ll certainly be in the first line or two of my obituary, whenever that comes out, and I’m fine with that. But I’ve done other things. What it has done, more than anything else, is give me insight into the passion, understanding, and importance of birds in other peoples lives.” He said that last year the book crept back up onto the best sellers list. “It has nothing to do with my words or anything like that, it has to do with the interest of Albertans in the natural world. It has something to do with the unique combination of Albertans living in close proximity to these natural areas, and how these natural areas are a fundamental part of the culture of Albertans. For me, the reward in writing the book is not only did it lead readers to identify something in their yards, but I came to the realization that it lead many to identify something in themselves.”

Fisher said that he noticed that during the pandemic there was an “incredible increase in the gravitation back towards nature.” Through social media connections, he heard stories about people becoming reacquainted with nature and finding value in it. He spoke at length about how our relationship with nature can promote a sense of well-being. He said he’s interested in the meaning associated with nature and described three categories of meaning that can be derived from it: connections, challenges, and care. He said that it can create a sense connection within ourselves and our community. It can also offer intellectual challenges by striving to understand it or by challenging oneself. As well, caring for nature and birds can foster empathy that can be passed on to others.

The over arching theme was respect and appreciation for the natural world, and also nurturing one’s own values and well-being. Definitely something to think about.

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