The question was asked, "how many more seconds does it take to type  
out the name itself?"

Few, of course, either typing or writing field notes...each time the  
name is used.  But that's not the only aspect.  The four-letter code  
is a really useful tool.  And that is the most important thing to  
remember:  it is a tool.

When recording birds seen in the field, those few seconds may make  
the difference of seeing a bird or having your head down, writing.
When communicating with other birders, it is a quick way to convey  

I notice that the sender has no problem with FOY.  That is another  
short-cut tool, with the same function.

I find that many people who balk at the four letter code for bird  
names often do so because they haven't learned the "official" name of  
the bird.  Knowing that a robin is an American Robin; that a goose is  
a Canada Goose, not a Canadian Goose; that a buzzard is a Turkey  
Vulture, etc.,  is a step along the way of learning about birds.   
Yes, it is not necessary to ever take that step, but it can be a big  
help in learning about birds, where to find them, and what you're  
seeing when you do find them.

Learning and using the alpha code is one aspect of learning about  
birds.  It isn't an essential part for some people, but it is used by  
thousands of people as a routine way of recording and discussing bird  
sightings.  We use it because it is a useful tool recognized and  
employed by birding enthusiasts and professional ornithologists in  
all ornithology-related activities.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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On Mar 22, 2011, at 8:22 PM, Archie Keiper wrote:

> I hit Levee Road in Monroe County (unincorporated Columbia) IL  
> today.  FOY Willet, Pectoral Sandpipers (abt 30), and Little Blue  
> Heron.
> Sorry -- I am not educated enough to use the four-letter anacronyms  
> for the species.  The system seems simple enough, but what do you  
> do with Canada Goose vs Cackling Goose, or Barn Swallow vs Bank  
> Swallow?  Besides, how many more seconds does it take to type out  
> the name itself?
> Archie Keiper
> Columbia, Monroe Co, IL
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