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Bird of prey nightlife Barn Owl

Source: LucasFotoArt / Getty

The North American Falconers Association describes Falconry as “the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor.”  It’s a profession that has been around for close to 4000 years.  And training for the profession is intense with two years as an apprentice and seven years to become a Master Falconer.  About 14 years ago, it was estimated that there were close to 5000 Falconers in the U.S.  Rodney Stotts is one of only thirty Black Master Falconers, according to Treehuggers.com.  In an interview with Audubon Magazine, Stotts says he “has spent nearly a decade training and apprenticing to trap, care for, and teach raptors to hunt alongside humans.”  He’s a native of Washington, D.C. who grew up in housing projects and hustled drugs.  However Master Falconer Stotts now lives on his farm in Virginia and is preparing to build a sanctuary named Dippy’s Dream, in honor of his late mother.  Dippy’s Dream will allow people a place to camp and to hang out with horses, goats, and birds.  Stotts describes the sanctuary as a place to come and heal.  And he hopes to inspire more people to learn about his profession.

Bird Brother: A Falconer’s Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife is the name of Stotts new memoir.  You can find the complete interview with the Black Master Falconer at audubon.org.