In my personal opinion four letter codes have no place in messages on MO-Birds.  They are vital for banding and useful for field records, but have no place in written communications.  By the way, I also detest the use of FOY, as a word. Iwill admit it is a usable abbrevation although I would not use it.  As for Edge's arguement about not knowing the full bird names, it is not valid in my opinion.  The correct four letter codes are not always obvious from the names because of ambiguous codes where more than species has the same initials or a bird has more than two names and the birds name has changed over time.  It is not worth anyone's while to remember if Northern Roughwinged Swallow is NRSW or NORS or NROS or ROSW or whatever unless they actually use them in the field which I suspect most do not.  I do not have the time or interest to memmorize the 800+ codes for US birds not to mention the 9000 or more for the rest of the world.  When I read a message and have to stop and think which bird the code is referring to it wastes my time and reduces the value of the message as communication.  That is my opinion, if you want to use them in e-mails go ahead.
David Becher

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 17:58:04 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: NO SIGHTING -- Comment on 4 letter bird codes
To: [log in to unmask]

I don't think anyone needs to apologize for not using the 4 letter bird codes. I personally don't like them, and have trouble reading them. I don't think a mobirds email should be treated the same as recording data in the field. I do find it interesting that there was an outcry when some birders used the scientific (Latin) bird names -- I believe the argument was that some readers would not understand them -- even though they could be easily looked up. Even easier, it might be argued, than finding the 4-letter codes. Plus the Latin names help one learn bird taxonomy.

On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 4:14 PM, Edge <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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 information.  

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
[log in to unmask]

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
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website:

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
Questions or comments? Email the list owners:
mailto://[log in to unmask]

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
Questions or comments? Email the list owners:
mailto:[log in to unmask]
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
To unsubscribe or change subscription options: