Extreme Free Flight: Falconry with Harris’s Hawks Part 2

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Episode - 13 ​March 2020

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guest: Al Kordowski

​​Join me for Part 2 of my fascinating interview with animal training pioneer Al Kordowski. Although the basis of our conversation is falconry with Harris’s hawks, Al’s background brings us to some of the early days of marine mammal training. He shares his experiences from working with a wide variety of species, including killer whales, when the animal training industry was rapidly evolving. Learn how cross species experience translates into free flight and how it can level up one’s skills. We also cover topics such as teaching animals to pay attention to specific signals such as cues and markers and how do you know what the animal is attending to? This also ties into discussions about the importance of teaching basic skills. Al also has extensive experience working in the service dog industry in which they developed and used temperament testing to match the right animal for the desired role. We discuss how this applies to the zoological field and falconry. We also discuss the merging of practical application and academia. It was another robust interview! I also answer your questions about dominance and have a special deal to help animal training enthusiasts make the most of the current situation.

Submit your questions for Al below. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

​Video Example of Al ​in the Field:

​The Art and Science of Animal Training Conference:

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Links to Falconry Resources:

The Harris's Hawk Revolution By Jennifer and Tom Coulson

North American Falconer's Association FAQ's about falconry

US State Fish and Wildlife Services Find your state, Choose the last link in bold, choose permit, choose Migratory Bird Treaty Act, choose falconry

Guest Bio:

​Al Kordowski has had an extensive and successful career spanning 40+ years and specializing in behavior modification, care and management. He has worked in the marine mammal, zoological, and assistance dog industries, and as a master falconer.

Kordowski began his career in the distinguished Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College, leaving in 1975 to start a 31-year career with SeaWorld Orlando.  During his tenure, he was formative with cutting-edge training methodology, replacing punishment and restraining husbandry procedures with positives and training, both becoming industry standards, through to enriching the environments for the marine and terrestrial animals.

Next, he attracted international attention from Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai where he instituted, recruited an international team of trainers, and operated the U.A.E.s’ first licensed dolphin interactive facility. He also developed educational programs for universities in partnership with the U.A.E.’s Government and Environmental teams, established a complete veterinary laboratory, and developed a program for rescue and rehabilitation of stranded or injured marine animals.

Back in the USA, Kordowski directed zoological operations at Wild Adventures, the extensive exotic animal and entertainment facility in Valdosta, Georgia, before leaving the corporate sphere to lead the venerable Texas nonprofit, Service Dogs, Inc.  There he directed training, facility operations, and spearheaded the Assistance Dog Trainer’s Academy to share assistance dog standards for professional trainers and advance behavioral methodologies and temperament selection in the service dog industry.

As an established speaker, he presents on a variety of topics, including service dog training, the power of positive relationships, behavior modification and philosophy, and practices of falconry.  Kordowski has served as Vice President, President, and on the Board of Directors for the International Marine Animal Trainers Associations.  He also served as CFO and on the Board of Directors for The Animal Behavior Management Alliance. 

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