Photographer shows a special eye for birds

Center for the Humanities Newsletter Photo
Allen Norby

A camera changes one’s view of the world. For Allen Norby, the truism has proven to be not only accurate but profound. Since trading his hunting bow for a camera nearly a decade ago, Norby has moved deeply into a world of birds he had noticed very little before. His bird photographs now number in the hundreds, many taken within ten miles of his home near the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area north of Corvallis.

“Everywhere you go there are birds,” he said. There are also many bird photographers, but few have Norby’s patience and skill at catching the rare and precise moment: a fish tossed into the air for easier swallowing; a reflection cast on rock-still water; a wing extended like an exotic fan for preening.

On some of his frequent trips to the wildlife reserve, he carries a portable blind, but the territory is now so familiar he also knows just what hole in a snag will have an owl peering out, or which log is favored by the fast-moving kingfisher. “For three years, I have photographed a screech owl in a tree cavity, just off a trail at E.E. Wilson,” Norby told an Albany Democrat-Herald reporter recently. “This bird is so well camouflaged I’m sure hundreds of hikers and birders have walked by it without knowing it was there.”

Norby’s photographs have appeared on Audubon Society calendars and in many regional exhibits, and been awarded numerous first-place prizes in photo contests. Several dozen of the images will be on display at the Center from the start of spring term through August.