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March 2010


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LARRY NEILY <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 10 Mar 2010 11:49:43 -0800
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That is "My 2 cents worth on abbreviations and acronyms". I too wish people would use the bird's entire name (at the very least the first time it is mentioned - with the abbreviation you want to use following it in brackets). This removes the need for any who are not thoroughly familiar with them to take the time (as one posted says) to translate them, perhaps being stumped for many minutes i some cases. I am a full member of the AAAL (Anti-Abbreviation and Acronym League). We abhor ambiguity. Especially in time sensitive reports.

The Bird Banding Lab (BBL) Code has enough built in ambiguity to confuse even its regular users. Following its rules, there are no less than 29 two species duplicates and 4 three species duplicates. While these are each given distinguishing codes, not everyone, especially non-banders trying to use these codes, is aware of the special cases. There is a great deal to be said for using the entire name, rather than a potential confusing and ambiguous code.

For example: If you see TRSW what comes to mind Tree Swallow or Trumpeter Swan (in this case they have been assigned TRES & TRUS). For the curious, the 4 3-way conflicts are: Barn, Bank & Bahama Swallows; Cactus, Canyon & Carolina Wrens; Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee & Gray Kingbird; and Harris', Harlan's and Hawaiian Hawks. One misused code I have seen on listservs is NOSH (Northern Shrike or Norther Shoveler?). Of course they are supposed to be NSHR & NSHO, but the poster blithely followed the "rules", not being aware of the exceptions.

Now here's how far we've taken this propensity to abbreviate in the day of the text message. Just what is "lol"; "lots of love" or "laughing out loud"? Or is the ambiguity deliberate? We don't need deliberate ambiguity in bird reports. LOL, Larry

Larry Neily, Ottawa, ON, Canada 
Visit NeilyWorld, its Birding Ottawa Guide,
its 4000 Birding Links, and the Canadian Listers' Corner.