Seriously… CPBT

A short history (from the IATCB website)

In early 2011 the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) established a Professional Development Committee to investigate and develop a program for the certification of avian trainers. Over the next year the Professional Development Committee researched professional certification programs and made contact with The Professional Testing Corporation (PTC). PTC, based in New York, has developed many certification programs across a broad range of professions.

Under the guidance of PTC the International Avian Trainers Certification Board (IATCB) was established by IAATE in July 2012. The aim of IAATE in establishing the IATCB was to provide an independent certification body to develop and manage examinations for trainers and educators working with birds. IAATE sees this certification as a valuable tool for both individuals and employers for demonstrating not only a level of knowledge about bird training but also a commitment to ongoing personal development.

Code of Professional Ethics


  • Strive to achieve high standards of training, animal care and educational programming through knowledge and training.
  • Follow a hierarchy of behavioral procedures in training with a goal of using the least intrusive, most positive methods to influence behavior before considering the use of aversives.
  • Make the physical and mental well-being of each animal the primary consideration in management, training and presentation.
  • Provide professional and humane care for the animals in their care, respecting the wild nature and maintaining the dignity of each animal in life and in death.
  • Abide by local, state, provincial, and federal laws concerning avian training and associated activities.
  • Legally acquire animals and include proper documentation.
  • Only transfer animals to legal and reputable facilities.
  • Establish safe work habits and conditions, abiding by current health and safety practices at all times.
  • Encourage community support and involvement through public education. The common goal is to promote a responsible concern for living beings and the welfare of the environment.
  • Work on the basis of sound ecological principles, incorporating appropriate conservation ethics and an attitude of stewardship.
  • Acknowledge limitations and enlist the assistance of a veterinarian or other trained professionals when appropriate.
  • Respect other trainers and persons in related fields, sharing skills and knowledge in the spirit of cooperation for the welfare of the animals.
  • Respect the intellectual property and copyrights of other individuals and entities.
  • Conduct all business and activities in a professional manner with honesty, integrity, compassion, and commitment; realizing that an individual’s conduct reflects on the entire field of avian training and environmental education.

The IATCB code of Professional Ethics was adapted, with permission, from the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators Code of Professional Ethics.

The CPBT-KA certification provides an impartial, third-party endorsement of an individual’s professional knowledge and experience and assures employers and the public that the certificate holder is a competent professional with formal recognition of knowledge and practice in the field of avian care. To achieve this certification, a trainer must have at least three years of professional experience with birds, and pass a 200 question exam on training principles, learning theory, husbandry, enrichment, public education and professional issues. To maintain certification, CPBT-KAs must submit proof of continuing education in the bird training field.

The Certification Examination for Professional Bird Trainers is a computerized examination composed of a maximum of 200 objective, multiple-choice questions with a total testing time of four (4) hours. The questions for the examination are obtained from individuals with expertise in avian training and education and are reviewed for construction, accuracy, and appropriateness by the IATCB. The IATCB, with the advice and assistance of PTC, prepares the examination.


The Certification Examination for Professional Bird Trainers is weighted in approximately the following manner:

I. Learning Principles 30%
II. Applied Training 30%
III. Husbandry and Enrichment 20%
IV. Public Education 10%
V. Professional Ethics 10%



A. The Significance of Science to Behavior

1. Obstacles to the Scientific Analysis of Behavior
2. Working Definitions

a) Behavior Operationally Defined
b) Stimulus
c) Learning
d) Hypothesis vs. Theory
e) Behavior Analysis

B. Learning Paradigms

1. Respondent Learning: S-S-R
2. Operant Learning: S-R-S

C. Understanding and Predicting Behavior

1. ABC
2. Functional Assessment

D. Empowerment

1. Key Questions for Solving Behavior Problems
2. Science of Empowerment

a) Control as a Primary Reinforcer
b) Contra-freeloading
c) Learned Helplessness vs. Resilience

E. Changing Behavior: Respondent Strategies

1. Exposure Therapies
2. Systematic Desensitization
3. Counter-conditioning
4. Flooding

F. Changing Behavior: Operant Strategies

1. Antecedents

a) Setting Events
b) Establishing/Motivating Operations
c) Discriminative Stimuli

(1) S-D
(2) S-Delta
(3) Adding or Changing Cue

2. Consequences

a) Function and Operations
b) Four Quadrants

G. Increasing Behavior

1. Positive and Negative Reinforcement
2. Considerations for Effective Reinforcement

a) Three Cs
b) Schedule Effects

(1) Continuous
(2) Intermittent
(3) Extinction
(4) Matching Law

c) Individual Difference
d) Establishing New Reinforcers

3. Shaping
4. Targeting
5. Prompting and Fading Prompts
6. Chaining
7. Discrimination
8. Generalization

H. Decreasing Behavior

1. Punishment Defined
2. Redirecting
3. Positive Punishment vs. Negative Reinforcement
4. Factors Affecting Punishment
5. Problems with Punishment
6. Alternatives to Positive Punishment

a) Differential Reinforcement of Alternative/Incompatible Behavior
b) Extinction
c) Time Out from Positive Reinforcement



A. Body Language

1. Distance Increasing Behaviors
2. Distance Decreasing Behaviors
3. Stress Indicators

B. Training Problems

1. Motivation

a) Relationships
b) Ability to Perform Behavior
c) Past Experience
d) Environmental Distraction

(1) Social
(2) Breeding
(3) Comfort
(4) Distractions
(5) Degree of Hunger

2. Latency
3. Aggressive Behavior
4. Superstitious Behavior

C. Free Flight Training

1. Send and Recall Cues
2. Repetition
3. Generalization

a) Trainers
b) Conditions

4. Wind
5. Strength and Conditioning
6. Potential Dangers
7. Choice of Free Flight Candidates

D. Food and Weight Management

1. Determining Ad Lib Weight for Baseline
2. Indicators of Too Low Weight
3. Food vs. Weight Management

E. Imprinting

1. Choice of Species
2. Possible Detrimental Consequences

F. Equipment Use

1. Jesses and anklets
2. Hoods
3. Gloves
4. Creance
5. Telemetry
6. Capture/Release/Transport
7. Training Tools
8. Scales

G. Tethering

1. Species Appropriate
2. Tethering vs. Freelofting
3. Potential Problems

H. Training Procedures



A. Husbandry

1. Medical/Health Care

a) Avian Diseases

(1) Zoonotic
(2) Parasites

b) Symptoms requiring veterinary referral

(1) Physical
(2) Behavioral

c) Emergency Medical Care/First Aid

2. Nutrition
3. Housing
4. Coping/Grooming
5. Restraint
6. Collection Planning/Breeding
7. Natural History
8. Anatomy and Physiology
9. Equipment Use

a) Nets
b) Scales

B. Enrichment

1. Food/Feeding
2. Sensory
3. Novel Objects
4. Structural
5. Training/Social/Behavioral



A. Presentation Skills

1. Audience Engagement
2. Audience Appropriate Content

B. Messaging

1. Natural History
2. Conservation
3. Graphics and Signage
4. Learning Modalities
5. Multicultural Sensitivity
6. Promotion of Behavior Change

C. Evaluation

D. Program Design

1. Theater and Stage Design
2. Production Quality



A. Position Statements

1. Tethering
2. Food and Weight Management
3. Veterinary Care
4. Educational Messaging
5. Enrichment
6. Free Flight Programs
7. Collection Planning
8. Housing
9. Training

B. Code of Professional Ethics

C. Prohibited Practices

D. Hierarchy of Procedural Choice

E. Situations that Limit Training