Myrna Pearman wants Central Albertans to be more aware of the amazing wildlife that surrounds them.
So the biologist, author and photographer has compiled some of her photos and columns published in the Red Deer Advocate since 2016, along with of her articles for Nature Alberta and The Gardener magazines, for a new book.
Her self-published book Beauty Everywhere: Nature Photo Essays, Volume II, is a sequel to Beauty Everywhere: Nature Photo Essays published in 2016.
Volume II will be available in the spring and pre-sale gift certificates can be found on her website myrnapearman.com.
Pearman said she tries to champion wildlife that is easily overlooked, or disregarded, because they deserve attention.
“Many people I’ve seen on Facebook and social media, they care about owls and bears and cougars and wax wings. But don’t give much heed, or don’t even know, that we have so many of these other species in our backyards,” said Pearman, who is retired from a long career with Ellis Bird Farm.
For example, there are 17 species of sparrows with subtle differences in Alberta.
“A lot of people just lump them all together. I think knowing the birds when you’re out enriches your experience of being in the outdoors.”
She said as a biologist she has experienced sides of nature that people either don’t see, or don’t realize exactly what they’re looking at.
Her books include a range of topics and are not highly scientific so they are easy to read to reveal the wonders of wildlife.
“It’s a mix of trying to share my knowledge, my passion, my love of photography.”
Pearman said she was thrilled her first book resonated with people. One woman, whose father had dementia, was taken with the book so much that he would go through it every day, reading it over and over.
“Another lady told me when her mother was dying, all she wanted in her dying hours was to have her daughter sit there in her room and read these stories to her.”
As a Red Deer River Naturalists member, Pearman wants people to get out and experience nature which is now easier thanks to naturecentral.org. Developed by the naturalists in 2021 with resources from groups like Ducks Unlimited and Nature Conservancy of Canada, the site lists the huge number of protected areas within a one-hour drive of Red Deer.
“There are 190 places we as the public can go and explore and enjoy these little pockets of nature.”
“I’m really trying to encourage people to explore our own backyard. Wilderness just isn’t in Banff and Jasper. Wilderness is right here. We just have to find these places and explore them. There’s so much to learn and to see.”
Pearman said she is pleased with the partnership developed between Red Deer River Naturalists and biology instructors at Red Deer Polytechnic. The protected areas need study and to be kept safe, and students are encouraged to go on field trips to these beautiful spaces. Students are also attending monthly Naturalists meetings.
“We’re doing what we can to encourage young people to get out in the field and appreciate nature. The response from RDP has been just so heartening.”
Unfortunately children are less and less engaged in nature, she said.
“My worry is that were not engaging young people enough to get out and have authentic nature experiences. We compete with the screens.”
Pearman authored Get to Know Bluebirds: A Guide for Young Nature Lovers, which was recently released and available on Amazon. Profits go to the North American Bluebird Society.