Next / Previous / Contents / Shipman's homepage

5.10. The age-sex-group attributes

age-sex-group =
(   attribute age { "u" | "a" | "i" | "p" }?,  1
    attribute sex { "u" | "m" | "f" }?,        2
    attribute q { " " | "?" | "-" }?,          3
    attribute count { text }?,                 4
    attribute fide { text }?                   5

Age class of the birds seen:

u Unknown age; the default.
a Adult.
i Immature, subadult, or juvenal.
p Female or immature (φ), which is actually a combination of an age constraint and a sex constraint: it's not an adult male.

Sex of the birds seen. In some of the author's data sets, code “p” can occur, because this stands for “female or immature” and is thus both an age and a sex. However, to simplify processing, we will force that value to occur only in age codes.

u Unknown (the default).
m Male.
f Female.

If the observer is not certain of the identification, use attribute q='?' to flag the record as questionable. Such records should be considered a best guess, but not useable for scientific purposes, or countable in a birding context (such as for the purposes of reporting totals to the American Birding Association).

Code q='-' indicates that the identity is not in question, but it is not ABA countable.


For many records, no count of individuals is given. However, the count attribute is available for specifying counts or estimates in various ways:

  • Actual numbers or estimates such as count='3' or count='50000'.

  • count='#' means “more than one”, and is the default interpretation.

  • A “+” suffix means “or more;” for example, count='9+' means nine or more.

  • A “-” suffix means “or less;” such as count='6-' for “not more than six.”

  • If the estimate is a range, use two numbers with a hyphen between them. For example, count='30-40' means there were about thirty to forty individuals.

  • A tilde (~) prefix is used to indicate an approximate count, e.g., “~100” for “about a hundred.”


When the primary observer did not personally see the bird, but wishes to pass on secondhand reports, use a fide attribute whose value is the name or names of the actual observers. For example:

    fide='Glenn Kendall'

One should assume that the veracity of the record is that of the stated observer. Such records are not considered countable for birding totals.