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Exquisite wild bird photography

Photo: Bob Wilcutt

In a world of high stress, hurry-scurry and overbooked calendars, seldom is time set aside to sit still and enjoy nature. Bird lover Bob Willcutt has discovered the joy in such moments and, coupled with an assortment of high-quality camera equipment, has captured a collection of photographs of wild birds residing in Lexington and Fayette County, his home for more than 50 years.

Feathers of Fayette (Acclaim Press, $39.95), gives readers the opportunity to see birds close-up while also serving as a beautiful identification guide for species in the area. Willcutt has thoughtfully marked each photo in this coffee-table book with the species name as well as a caption. For those who might want to try their hand at wildlife photography, every shot is also labeled with the camera and lens model, shutter speed, aperture, focal length, and ISO settings used. The collection is divided into categories including backyard birds, raptors, waterfowl, waders and shore birds. Willcutt says that of the hundreds of images in the book, only two are not presented in their natural setting.

Bob Willcutt Photo: Pennye Willcutt

Willcutt notes over 150 breeding species in the state with the addition of hundreds more migratory and winter residents. Despite his findings, he does not claim to be an expert. Instead, he humbly calls himself “a recorder of light, events and time that will never be exactly repeated.” He adds, “To help me capture certain scenes, I still must anticipate movements and know where to expect certain birds to be, but I refer to the birding experts for information about what I have recorded. I am constantly learning about the birds I photograph, and my respect for them grows the more I experience their wonders.”

Willcutt began his photography career in the 1960s as photo editor of his Washington, D.C., high school newspaper. After attending the University of Kentucky, he started a music business in 1968. Developing a website in 1998 for the business, which by then had grown to a guitar store, brought Willcutt back to photography of guitars for the website. His avian art has been endorsed by Central Kentucky Audubon Society President Tony Brusate, who quips, “If there’s a 12-step plan to cure bird-watching, we hope Bob never finds it.”

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