Look Up

Rodney Stotts had a hard life growing up — but an introduction to falconry gave him a way out. Years later, his son Mike embraced falconry as his escape, too. “If my dad was still selling drugs, I would be a drug dealer,” says Mike. “My dad’s a falconer, so I’m a falconer.”

Rodney and Mike are among a few dozen Black falconers in the United States. They’ve bonded over these birds, not only finding joy in keeping and training them, but also through deep connections with the animals.

Now, as Mike teaches falconry to his own children, Rodney’s been able to reflect on the legacy he’s created: “We’ll be that first family of generation after generation after generation of Black falconers.”

Video produced by Amanda Kowalski and Ari Daniel, with BirdNote’s Jason Saul, Mark Bramhill, Ashley Ahearn, Ellen Blackstone, and Shelly Ellison.

BirdNote: Next Generation is made possible by the Falconer Family of Seattle, the Bobolink Foundation, the Treeline Foundation, and the Peg and Rick Young Foundation.

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