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6.16. The 2004 tail section

In the 2004 and 2005 field seasons, and in many previous years, the “tail” section following the net field had a different format. This tail section was abandoned in the 2006 version in favor of the free-form approach. One reason for this abandonment was that the 2004 tail section requires that the fields be entered in a different order than their occurrence on the sheet. Another reason was the addition of just one more column (the cloacal swab code) in 2006.

There were two tail formats, a “short tail” and a “long tail”. Here is the short tail format:

  1. The short tail starts immediately after the net field.

  2. If the bird had a feather pulled, an asterisk (*) was entered instead of the alignment character (.).

  3. A disposition code could be entered after either the alignment character or the feather-pulled character.

The long tail format was used to encode a note number.

  1. The long tail also starts immediately after the net field with a slash (/) character that signals the presence of a long tail.

  2. The note number is next, two digits, right-justified with left zero fill. If there is no note number, these digits are blank.

  3. The disposition code comes next, or one space if there is no disposition code.

  4. For MAPS, the long tail ends with an alignment character (.) or a feather-pulled character (*).

  5. In MAWS sets, a color-band sequence may follow the long tail.

You might think that in the case where there is no note number, the short tail would suffice. However, the advent of the MAWS format in 2004 lead to a data pun. In the MAWS format, the color-band sequence immediately follows the alignment character. Unfortunately, some disposition codes use letters that are also valid color-band codes, such as O: as a color, this means orange, but as a disposition code, it means “old injury.” Therefore, the long tail format must be used in 2004–2005 MAWS data lines that have a disposition code.