When posting to the list, it is only considerate to spell bird names out at least once for the many among us who don't know the banding codes. But let's not forget that birding, like just about every other activity, has its own special vocabulary, which birders use in the field and when talking about birds together. Latin names like accipiter and buteo, come to mind. Also, derivatives like empid and alcid. Ironically, the four letter banding codes are rarely useful in oral speech. But birders do use a number of three-letter abbreviations quite commonly. These include:

GBH = Great Blue Heron
RBN = Red-breasted Nuthatch
ETS = Eurasian Tree Sparrow (also used in print)
RBM = Red-breasted Merganser 
AOU = American Ornitholgists' Union
ABA = American Birding Association

If you want to read discussion of which Latin names to know, go to

(Incidentally, AOU has made some major changes in taxonomy and nomenclature, which render my discussion of Taxonomy in Ornithology 101 (and just about every field guide now on the market) somewhat obsolete. I have submitted an update to the mobirds web master, but it has not yet been uploaded).

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