I do not have any problem with the four letter codes used in birding circles. I usually use them in the field when jotting down the various birds which I am seeing. It is a lot quicker than writing down the full name.

I believe that when posting to MOBIRDS-L or other similar sites that the recommended procedure is to mention the full common name of the bird in the subject line and thereafter it is acceptable to use the acronym in the body of the message.

One does not have to learn 800+ codes but usually just knowing 50 or 60 should cover most of the species one will see in a day's birding here in Missouri.

By the way (and some people say "btw"), the code for Northern Rough-Winged Swallow is NRWS. N for Northern, R for Rough, W for Winged, S for Swallow, not that difficult really!

As for FOY or FOS, I believe that these should probably be understandable in pretty short order to represent First Of Year or First Of Season without taxing the mental capabilities of most people.

In the final analysis, as with various other options among people interested in birds, it is "to each his own" on the way one persues his/her birding interests.

Larry Lade
Saint Joseph, MO
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--- On Thu, 3/24/11, David Becher <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: David Becher <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: NO SIGHTING -- Comment on 4 letter bird codes
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, March 24, 2011, 9:37 PM

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

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 29 - May 1, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri,