If You’re into Animal Behavior and Positive Reinforcement Training, You’re in the Right Spot

World renown animal behavior consultant, falconer, and educator Hillary Hankey dives deep with conversations and case studies on parrots, birds of prey as well as horses, dogs and all kinds of animals on topics of behavior as well as nutrition, ethology and problem solving.

Subscribe now to level up your behavior, training, and animal care understanding with the experts, renegades, rebels, hellions, intellectual rock stars, avicultural ground breakers, rehabilitating legends, and other members of the intelligentsia that break new ground in the animal world and push us to be the best version of ourselves for the animals in our lives.

A Bird Brained Podcast for the Nerd Brained

Conversations include:

  • Parrot behavior and training
  • Avian nutrition and husbandry
  • Aviculture husbandry, breeding, and conservation
  • Problem solving with pets
  • Zoo training
  • Ambassador animal training
  • Falconry
  • Wild bird behavior (ethology)
  • Dog, equine, and cat training
  • Learning theory, the science of behavior, and operant conditioning
  • All things animals!

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  • In this episode, Hillary speaks with Liv Morton. Liv is a member of Avian Behavior Lab, our online education program catering to the world of animal care professionals and other animal lovers and enthusiasts. Hillary and Liv talk about the ins-and-outs of working with male cockatoos. They touch on the limitations of using a targeted, one-size-fits-all approach to situations that aren’t taking place in a controlled environment such as a zoo....

  • Does falconry still have a place in the modern world? It’s an old heritage sport, and there are a lot of misconceptions about what it entails. In this episode, Hillary uses her experience and insights as a licensed American falconer to discuss what the commitments and responsibilities of a falconer are. This episode includes a very frank and candid discussion of hunting, so if that is not your thing, it’s recommended that you skip it!...

  • What kind of jobs are there if you love birds and want to spend your life sharing your enthusiasm? It turns out, there are many types of jobs, and in this day and age, you can also make your own way. In this episode, we talk about some of the useful strategies we have seen in the entry level animal trainers and other care givers we have worked with to get a toehold in the competitive field of the science of bird care. We even share some of our insights in to resumes and interviews, some of which may not be the most conventional, but we are here to help you stand apart and find your path!...

  • Being intentional about your choices, the shortcuts you take or don't take in your relationships with people and animals all make up a mosaic that is our behavioral repertoire and learning evolution. How much that we recognize how our actions impact future decisions for the individuals around us makes us better animal trainers and more cognizant, inspirational leaders. ...

  • In the podcast, we are going all in on the behavior analysis term of extinction (not the existential crisis) and why ignoring problem behavior is problem behavior in and of itself. See what we did there? We use loads of examples, from parrots to cranes, hornbills to vultures, to cover this topic. We talk about other fallout scenarios and drawbacks from using extinction procedures, like riding the extinction burst, fallout frustration and aggression and other scenarios....

  • What is a husbandry behavior and why train it? I think of it as the difference between fighting with your cohabitants over little behaviors and coming to an agreement over mutually beneficial behaviors. These behaviors are important whether we are talking to companion parrot lovers or professional animal caregivers. What’s on your list of top five? This episode features a special, unexpected mystery guest who we left in for your listening pleasure. If you have been following along on our social media, then you will enjoy her contributions!...

  • The concept of leaving your parrot flighted or clipping its wings is a huge topic with much debate. There are many opinions going both ways based on health, safety, welfare, and psychological benefits...

  • In this broad conversation, Paige Davis, a curator at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Missouri, and I sit down and talk about bird of prey training, falconry, species differences, weight management, and social media. We covered a lot of ground when it comes to birds of prey and the way we train them, and I can’t wait for you to listen to this podcast...

  • You know I love a good myth-buster series. At the risk of going down the road of talking about what people do wrong instead of how to do it right, we look at a few practices that circulate raptor training circles in both falconry and education ambassador training areas....

  • There are lots of myths and easily perpetuated narratives about how we should care for and manage our parrots and their behavior. Many of these narratives are not rooted in science or academic information but something that is worse (eep! sorry scientists): that which looks close to science but is not actually science. This makes information confusing and yet, we still pass it along because it might work for someone sometimes....

  • Anthropomorphism is assigning human like qualities to non human things. This can be animals, planets, plants, even computers. Anthropomorphism isn’t all bad, but it’s important to understand how it influences things like our conservation choices (choosing the cute animal over the less cuddly one, regardless of environmental impact) and the videos we share on social media....

  • In this episode, we speak frankly about death and the loss of an animal. We talk about the body’s response to emotional pain and research that discusses animal-human relationships. We also discuss some complicated topics about empathy, accountability, and responsibility in the animal world, for which there are no simple, formulaic answers. I do not believe that free flying birds necessarily leads to a better quality of life every time, nor do I think it is our job to police the conditions of each others’ animals on the internet every time we see something we think we disagree with. How does this all connect? Listen in and see what you think!...

  • In this broad reaching podcast, we tackle the problematic way we solve behavior problems that is still so prevalent on community forums in social media. This podcast gives three important questions for you to ask and enact right away that will help you vet and seek correct information and find the path forward. This will in turn minimize fallout from improper behavior techniques, stress, and physiological issues down the road....

  • Owls are iconic, mysterious, and deeply ingrained in our culture. They make important conservation ambassadors, albeit challenging ones. Our Masterclass on How to Raise an Ambassador Owl focuses on how to work through the specifics of these challenges as well as why this makes a good model for raising and training other animal ambassadors for conservation work....

  • Losing trust is a big deal. It can lead to our parrots spending more time away from us, even in their cages or aviaries in order to bite us less. It can make us do what seem to the outsider as funny things, like wear a box on our head or carry our bird on a household item in order to not get bitten or lunged at. These questions are from our webinar series, which is available for all our members! Where do you start to rebuild trust when you can’t even reinforce your parrot? Let’s find out....