Bird Brother. A Falconer's Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife


Rodney Stotts & Kate Pipkin
Island Press, £19.99

Bird Brother is a very personal story of hope, redemption, and sheer guts. Rodney Stotts begins his tale as a youngster dealing cocaine on the streets of Washington DC, running from the police, toting guns, seeing his friends murdered and believing he’d be lucky to see his 21st birthday. Then he began to turn his life around, first working for the Earth Conservation Corps cleaning the Anacostia River, and then helping with reintroductions of American eagles to the same river as it was brought back to life.

Rising from a shaky start, Rodney is now a master falconer, having graduated with five years of experience looking after and flying these magnificent birds. He runs his own business giving demonstrations of raptors for local schools. He’s currently setting up ‘Dippy’s Dream’, giving disadvantaged youth from Washington DC a retreat where they can remove themselves from the trials of everyday existence.

What really comes across in this book is Rodney’s love of what he does and the constructive role that nature has played in his life journey. It obviously hasn’t been easy, loosing family and friends along the way, but becoming a falconer has enriched his soul. This is a book written for the lay person, but for students and academics wanting a case study of how ecosystem services can positively impact an individual, look no further than Bird Brother.

Iain Gordon FRSE CBiol FRSB