'Ruffled Feathers' in clay, started almost a year ago. The idea to sculpt fighting Prairie Chickens began from a memory and a viewing of a film at Don Barnett's Ranch near Dexter, Kansas on the Oklahoma/Kansas border.
After a family reunion at the Barnett ranch several years ago, I saw a film about the Colorado Department of Wildlife capturing these birds on Don's ranch to study, relocate and build up the populations of birds in Colorado.
At the time we lived about 20 miles from Don and Shirley, on a ranch northeast of Newkirk, Oklahoma. My family had witnessed and heard these birds in the distance in the spring when they are vying for dominance on the 'lech' to compete for breeding rights. The 'Booming grounds' are usually the same year after year. The calls and the thumping sound can be heard in the still of the evenings and early in the mornings.
It was this experience and interest and the dwindling populations, that inspired me to sculpt these birds. Research was done at the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center, Southeast of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
At the Center, I got to see the collections of eggs, (over 400 last year) to be hatched, and learned what it takes to care for the chicks once that have hatched........some are handled to imprint, so they can be artificially inseminated, while others or handled with the camo shrouds, so they can be released into the wild. Each chick is handled several times a day for feeding and weighing and documentation. Volunteers are needed during this time to help hold and feed the chicks. Volunteers work around the clock.
The new breeding barn held large netted pens of birds and a large area south of the barns held the birds to be released.
The Education Center is located about 10 miles west of the Research Facility and can be visited to learn more about the prairie chicken and other birds that are being helped through conservation efforts. For more information about the Sutton Center go to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.suttoncenter.org
The sculpture has just been cast at the foundry and is posted on this website. I am pleased with this sculpture and it has already been accepted in the American Plains Artist Signature Show in Pawhuska, March 23rd- April 28th. Opening March 23 & 24 at the Ole#1 Firehouse, 118 1/2 Main Street. This historic building is the new Arts Center, behind the City Hall and the Constantine Theatre.