A bald eagle that made its home for over 30 years in the lower level of the Joplin Municipal Building on Third Street has moved thanks to the persistence of the Spiva Center for the Arts director Jo Mueller. The steel sculpture created by the late artist Nancy Kissel Clark (1919-2002) was unveiled at a ceremony at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center during their Feathers in Flight festival on May 2, 2008. Perched atop a stand created by Justin Hale, a former student of Clark's, the bird made of long strips of recycled metal, has a commanding spot overlooking other nature exhibits. Introduced by Audubon Center Executive Director Robin McAlester, family members of the artist and Joplin Mayor Gary Shaw participated in the eagle's unveiling.
The city of Joplin acquired the prize-winning sculpture in May 1968 through a dedication by the Joplin Arts Council after the group had purchased it from Kissel Clark during a local art show.
Taking the podium at right is Robin McAlester who became the executive director of the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center after its predecessor Tony Robyn accepted the position of Audubon Missouri state executive director and vice-president. McAlester had been the center's development director.
Exhibits and lectures also took place
During the two day Feathers in Flight event Noppadol ("Nopp") Paothong, pictured at right with some of his Canon equipment, presented two PowerPoint presentations in which he demonstrated his patience and skill executing his craft. Paothong is a former photographer for the Joplin Globe and now a photographer for the Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife. Photos by Paothong of hummingbirds, including a cover shot, illustrate an article in the May issue of the Missouri Conservationist entitled, "Nature's Helicopters." One of the more interesting photos is an artistic rendition of how hummingbirds move their wings at blinding speeds. Paothong said he spent weeks studying the habits of the species, how they dart around, in order to be able to capture them digitally.
Currently, the May issue is available for viewing here.
A volunteer points to a stick with an attached hummingbird nest that is about the size of half of an English walnut. Birds and their habitats were part of an exhibit under a tent on the grounds of the center.
The Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is the focal point in Wildcat Park. It and the macadam hiking trails have created a renewed interest in the appreciation of nature. Of course, watching and participating in baseball at the park's field also is an attraction.
Visitors gather around the start of a new macadam trail developed by the city of Joplin that connects Wildcat Park at the cave spring to an area near the low water bridge at S. Jackson and Riverside Drive. In the past hikers had to get their feet wet in order to reach a continuation of a dirt trail that led under I-44 and continued west. The new trail system has been designed for walkers and prohibits jogging, biking or pet accompaniment.
We don't know if the fish were biting but these two boys at left, one with tackle box in hand, are wanting to find out. Their presence might have made this nearby roosting "momma" at right a bit nervous, but she didn't let on.
(Lynn Onstot, Joplin's public information officer, contributed to this article.)