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Koger Center for the Arts

Rudy Mancke Lecture


Rudy Mancke Lecture
Thursday April 18, 2019 - 5:30 p.m.


Birds of a Feather:  The Natural History of Birds

 This event is open to the public.

Birds, they surround us.  We hear them in our trees, see them in our yards, keep them as pets, hunt them as sport and even have them for dinner, but how much do we really know about them?  Join us as Rudy Mancke, South Carolina’s leading and best-known naturalist, provides a fascinating look into the hidden world of birds.  Presented in conjunction with the Koger Center’s newest gallery show Ethereal Plumage, Mancke traces the history of birds, from their first appearance in the fossil record as feathered dinosaurs, through the extinction of once abundant species and into the lives and habits of the birds we see around us every day.  Mancke will focus on the crucial function of the colors and structures of feathers and describe the role fashion has played in the demise of some species, such as the brilliantly-colored Carolina Parakeet. 


Rudy Mancke grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and spent his childhood roaming the woods and meadows of the Piedmont, observing the natural world, identifying flora and fauna, and asking himself questions about what he saw. When he was not exploring the outdoors, he was in the library seeking answers to these questions while forming new ones. Mancke’s education at Wofford College and graduate study at the University of South Carolina broadened his interest in natural history, an enthusiasm that he tried to give to his students at Spartanburg High School and later to the public while a Curator of Natural History at the South Carolina State Museum.  Mancke is happy to have founded the South Carolina Association of Naturalists, an organization that continues to thrive. Mancke’s work at the museum brought him into contact with producers at South Carolina Educational Television and led to the television series NatureScene (1978-2002) that is still being aired on public television. With hosts Beryl Dakers and later Jim Welch, Mancke led viewers on nature walks in many locations in the United States as well as to sites abroad.