Next / Previous / Shipman's Home Sweet Homepage / Site map

Rules for the six-letter bird code system

As with the Bird Banding Lab's four-letter codes, six-letter codes are derived by abbreviating the name of the bird. Names are not limited to standard AOU species names. Codes may be based on obsolete names (e.g., Short-billed Marsh Wren), subspecies names (Peale's Falcon), color morphs (Blue Goose), or even vague categories like "raptor" or "Empidonax sp."

  1. Birds with one-word names are abbreviated by taking the initial letters of the name:
            CANVAS  Canvasback
            RUFF    Ruff
            MURREL  murrelet
            EMPIDO  Empidonax sp.
  2. For two-word names, take the first three letters of the first word and the first three letters of the last word. Hyphenated words are always treated as separate words:
            CEDWAX  Cedar Waxwing
            LARFAL  large falcon
            STOPET  storm-petrel
  3. For three-word names, take two letters from the first word, one from the second, and three from the third:
            BABWAR  Bay-breasted Warbler
            GRPCHI  Greater Prairie-Chicken
            DABSHE  dark-backed shearwater
  4. For four or more words, take one letter each from the first three words, then the first three letters of the last word:
            GBBGUL  Great Black-backed Gull
            BCNHER  Black-crowned Night-Heron
            BTBWAR  Black-throated Blue Warbler
  5. Certain similar color names are abbreviated in standard ways: green as GRN or GN; gray as GRY or GY; black as BLK or BK; blue as BLU or BU; and brown as BRN or BN:
            BLKPHO  Black Phoebe
            GRYJAY  Gray Jay
            GNBHER  Green-backed Heron
            BNCFLY  Brown-crested Flycatcher

Next: Collisions in the six-letter bird code system
See also: A robust bird code system: the six-letter code
Previous: How the six-letter bird code system came about
Site map
John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 1996/01/21 20:02:29