Extreme Free Flight: Falconry with Harris’s Hawks

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Episode - 12 ​February 2020

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guest: Al Kordowski

​My special guest this episode is master falconer Al Kordowski. ​Imagine spending your entire day doing what you love....flying birds! ​Not many trainers are accustomed to having free-flighted birds hang and partner with you for eight hours out in the field. Al shares how these relationships are developed ​by building thoughtful reinforcement histories that allows him to work cooperatively with a group of birds to achieve a common goal. This leads to reinforcement for all parties involved as well as strong connections and excellent inter species communication.  You will be captured by Al's enthusiasm and blown away by his stories of what is possible. This is part one of this very eye opening journey into ​that kind of exciting training that draws upon years of experience, book knowledge, practical application skills,  and challenges a trainer to keep growing and learning. ​ I also answer your questions about training name tags, sloths and how to get an animal started that seems difficult to engage.

​Video Example of Al ​in the Field:

​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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