Birds on the Wire

Two young road-runners sitting upright after swallowing lizards, the tails of which are still hanging from their mouths. Arizona, 1910. William L. Finley Photographs Collection, OrgLot369_FinleyA0156

December 14 – July 12, 2018

  • Free for Members
  • Family-friendly
  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
Get Directions

The Oregon Historical Society is proud to present Birds on the Wire, a gallery of bird photography featuring the work of William L. Finley and his childhood friend Herman T. Bohlman. The exhibit reflects on Finley and Bohlman’s use of photo essays in the Sunday Oregonian to help advance their conservation goals and connect readers with the birdlife of Oregon. Their articles detailed the life cycle of birds found around Portland. Sunday readers were introduced to their winged-neighbors through intimate portraits of family life. Young broods transitioned from eggs to fledglings under the photographer’s watchful eye. Finley worked to reinforce the beneficial aspects of coexisting with birds. Humorous sketches of life in the nest emphasized the economic value and virtue of birds. Photography also helped to illustrate the threats birds in Oregon faced. Unregulated hunting for sport and decorative plumes decimated breeding colonies. Through his writing, Finley hoped to encourage his fellow citizens to join him in rallying around the cause of bird conservation.

“These moments in bird life, as Mr. Finley catches them with his
camera, present our wild friends in a human way. An instinctive bond
of sympathy between them and us develops with the knowledge that
their instincts are the same as ours.”

Jerome Lachenbruch, “Hunting Wild Birds for the Movies,” Outing, May 1921, 53.

Generously Sponsored by:







Images in this exhibit were digitized as part of a year-long collaboration between OHS Research Library and OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center. The Reuniting Finley and Bohlman project was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.