Date: 5/1/17 6:57 am
From: Daniel Mason <millipede1977...>
Subject: 4 letter codes
After seeing this comment, I thought I'd add a few thoughts. First, I
agree. lots of people of various skills(and backgrounds) join this
list. It's not always easy to change what we do shorthand to speed
things up if it's what we just do all the time but, it's helpful for
everyone that's learning if we can when we remember. :)
>
> A reminder: on first mention, can you please provide the full common
> name of the bird?
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

These codes are confusing at first... very confusing. And, some are
quite tricky when the rules start to change... cang and cacg for some
easy examples.
Anyone interested in learning... A lot of the basic birds are quite
easy to get used to their codes. And, why bother? It's not necessary
at all, of course, but it can speed things up if you're writing down
bird names often enough. Whether checking birds off in a notebook or
even submitting to Ebird. In a notebook, if you're out making a
checklist, you sure don't want to pause for a moment to write down
"northern rough-winged swallow." Takes time and a lot of room on the
paper. "nrws" is just easier. And if you decide to submit your
checklist to Ebird, both on their site and their phone app, you can
start typing in nrws and that bird will pop right up on the list for
you. So there are some benefits to learning the codes.

_*Here are the basic rules to the code....*_
1. A bird with two names, you simply take the first 2 letters of each
name. Northern Cardinal = NOCA.
2. A bird with one name, simply the first 4 letters of the name. Mallard
= MALL.
3. A bird with three names, first letter from the first two names + the
first two of the last(even with hyphenated names). Golden-crowned
kinglet = GCKI
4. A bird with four names, first letter of each. Northern rough-winged
swallow = NRWS.

_*Exceptions...*_ Here's the only part that can become tricky... birds
that would end up with the same code. Canada goose and Cackling goose.
By those rules you'd use the same code. So, it becomes the first three
letters of the first name and then the first of the last name. CANG =
Canada goose. CACG = Cackling goose.
But it gets trickier when the first three letters match too... Barred
owl and Barn owl. It appears you use the first two AND the last letter
of the first name, and then the first of the last. Barred owl is BADO
and Barn owl is BANO.
What is even trickier is, it seems this rule does not always apply. BARG
is barnacle goose and BAGO is Barrow's goldeneye. I am not sure why the
goldeneye gets to keep the typical code and the goose gets bumped to the
alternate.

Anyway... anyone interested in trying this for their own record keeping
or using Ebird, it might seem daunting at first but you get used to it
and if you're making lists, it's a time saver. Start with basics...
and, here's a PDF file I found a couple years ago that has the codes for
2k+ birds. Ignore the 6 letter codes.
http://www.birdpop.org/docs/misc/Alpha_codes_eng.pdf

Quick side note... with Ebird, they'll often accept incorrect codes
when you start typing. If you type SASP, savannah sparrow will pop up
as one of the possibilities even though its code is actually SAVS. I
used to write SASP in my notebooks til I eventually learned I was doing
that wrong. :)

I think it's good when people throw out both names and codes. I've seen
that done in some posts in a forum I use sometimes. They'll make sure
they mention the birds name for people unfamiliar with the codes but if
they have to mention it again, they'll use the codes.
Anyway... happy birding :)

Daniel Mason


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