“They frequent the lower parts of Rivers in Carolina” was about all Mark Catesby could say about “the little brown duck” that got away from him whilst compiling notes for his eighteenth century masterwork detailing the region’s wildlife. Of course, the bird’s speed and elusiveness came as no surprise to the countless duck hunters and birdwatchers that followed.
Numerous species of ducks and other local waterfowl are central to the Lowcountry’s historic culture, their meat and feathers filling specific desires from dining tables to fashion statements, and even indigenous sacred ceremonies. These birds today still carry a certain mystique all their own, influencing artisans and artists alike with their serene demeanor and brilliant plumage. Even hunting them has become somewhat of an art form. Handcrafted decoys and calls have themselves become prized possessions, as have the elegant shotguns used in conjunction with them.
The Charleston Museum, in cooperation with the 2017 Southeastern Wildlife Expo, and with generous sponsorship from the Charleston Mercury, presents Feathers and Flocks: Waterfowling in South Carolina, a collective look at the historic art and artifacts associated with local waterfowling. This exhibit will draw from a number of different categories from the Museum’s vast collections as well as a few private ones, and offer an important glimpse into the South Carolina Lowcountry’s longstanding water bird traditions.
In the Museum’s Armory, see excellent examples of historic weaponry, dating from 1750 to the twentieth century, with uses that ranged from military to more personal applications such as hunting and dueling.
In the Lowcountry History Hall, see materials relating to the Native Americans who first inhabited the Lowcountry and the African American and European settlers who transformed the region into an agricultural empire.
In the Natural History gallery you will see an extraordinary array of birds, reptiles and mammals that have called the South Carolina Lowcountry home since prehistory, including contributions from noted naturalists.