The scissor-tailed flycatcher carries a unique nickname: Texas bird-of-paradise. The bird is a speedy flyer with complex feathering and a burst of bright colours hidden on the underside of its wings. It was chosen as the inspiration for the playground sculpture for the Alliance Town Centre development in Fort Worth, Texas. The sculptural piece that represents the bird in flight is located at Bluestem Park, a 14-acre parcel of land that has been restored to its original prairie state.
Developed in collaboration with studioOutside, the sculpted wood wingspan of the bird nears 6 meters (over 19 feet). Children can access the angled cladded wings via a net tunnel, or select a more gradual ground-level-accessible route via the scissored tail. Handgrips are found along the flycatcher’s sleek and lengthy body (over 8 meters or nearly 27 feet) to assist children moving across the sculpture. The stainless steel bars, recalling the passage of air underneath the bird in-flight, offer additional points of access and egress. Finally, in recalling the tail of Thumbelina’s rescue from a mole’s underground house, and in a humorous nod to Texas, a wooden saddle atop the bird lets children’s imaginations fly.