As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Falconer Uses Birds to Give Young People Hope


Rodney Stotts is passionate about birds of prey. He once preyed on others as a drug dealer. But he gave up drugs and now works with conservation groups. Stotts regularly returns to Anacostia, the poor Washington neighborhood where he grew up to teach young people about birds of prey and the importance of protecting the environment.   
Rodney Stotts says he found his calling through birds of prey.

“I love my birds like I love life. They’re part of my family," said Stotts.

Working with birds, he says, helped the former drug dealer turn his life around.

“That quick, easy money leads to a quick, easy death. I don’t know any drug dealer that has retired," he said.

But Stotts retired in his 20's. He says attending the funerals of 33 drug dealers in just one year was a wake-up call. He found work with Earth Conservation Corps, a local environmental group helping disadvantaged youth like him. He began rehabilitating injured birds of prey, to give them - he says - "a new life".

"And I think that’s what I was given. I was that bird that had to go through rehabilitation, and once I was rehabilitated, I was released back into the wild with more knowledge than before," said Stotts.

He became a licensed falconer, hunting small prey with raptors. At this event in his old neighborhood, he talks about birds of prey and the importance of cleaning up the polluted Anacostia River.  

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