Band Codes

Using band codes can be an excellent way to get to species. Initially, the codes look pretty arcane, but if you spend a minute studying the logic behind them you might discover it is easy for you to think of a species and divine the code for it immediately. This could be your cup of tea.

Click the Band button (or press the / key). A text entry window opens, asking you to enter a four letter banding code. Type eltr and press Enter. You are taken to the Elegant Trogan. Try blja. You are taken to the Blue Jay.

Now that’s really slick! The trick, of course, is to learn the codes. Fortunately, you don’t really need to learn them—you just need to know how to extract the codes from bird names.

The codes are derived in a very logical and specific manner, using a pretty simple set of rules. While there are exceptions to the following rules because of conflicts between similar bird names, the majority of the time you can quickly mentally derive the code for a bird.

Band Code construction logic

If the bird name is a single word, the code consists of the first four letters of the word:

     Merlin = merl

If the bird name is two words, use the first two letters of the first word, followed by the first two letters of the second word:

     Boreal Chickadee = boch
     bo     ch

If the bird name is three words, use the first letter of the first word, the first letter of the second word, and the first two letters of the third word:

     Cape May Warbler = cmwa
     c    m   wa

If the bird name is three words, and two of the words are a hyphenated pair, you use the first letters of each of the hyphenated words, and the first two letters of the unhyphenated word:

     Red-shouldered Hawk = rsha
     r   s          ha
     Eastern Screech-Owl = easo
     ea      s       o

How do you know if a name has hyphenated words? If there is an adjective describing a feature of a bird, there is invariably a hyphen joining those two words, such as: Yellow-bellied, Black-headed, Rough-legged, Fork-tailed. The second example, Eastern Screech-Owl, above, is restricted to those unusual species that have a hyphenated common genus name, such as: Night-Heron.

If the bird name is four words, use the first letter of each word:

     Great Black-backed Gull = gbbg
     g     b     b      g

The band codes as published by the Bird Banding Laboratory necessarily create code collisions when the normal rules are applied to species names to derive the codes. An example would be . . .

Carolina Wren

Canyon Wren

Cactus Wren

. . . all require the band code . . CAWR

Over 100, about 11% of the total N.A. species, are involved in these collisions. Whenever you use the normal rules, and stumble into a collision, the involved birds will be presented in a dialog where you can select the species you want. We've designed this facility so that the species most likely to be used by the average N.A. birder is at the top of the list and highlighted --- most of the time, simply another Enter will take you to the bird you need.

You don't need to worry about collisions, alternate codes, or how alternate codes are derived. You always apply the normal rules, and get prompted if further selection is needed.

The band code search facility is very useful and productive. We urge you to try it out. In those cases where you are entering a large number of records of a wide variety of species, and if you are entering a lot of comments, your hands are already on the keyboard, making band code search a quick and natural process.

Note: To find the code for a bird, highlight the bird and press \ (Backslash).

World Band Codes

Since AviSys knows how to eliminate all collisions, we have provided a World Band Code facility which covers all 9,700+ world species. When you are in World Mode, or in Checklist Mode with a non-N.A. checklist invoked, AviSys changes to World Band Code Mode. Using the standard rules, you can enter the four letter code for any bird in the world. If there are multiple species that result from the code, they are presented in a list and you select the bird you want to get to. Because of the large number of birds, you will get a collision list 43% of the time, and the average length of the list is three species. What this really means is you will get to the bird you want in one step 57% of the time, and in two steps the rest of the time. With this facility, AviSys has the fastest method to get to world birds of any software -- by far! And, with our Jump Tables and comprehensive Find facility, we were the leader even before world band codes!

When you start AviSys the first time, you will be asked to select Utils / Create World Band Code Files. After you do that, the World Band Code facility is implemented. Whenever you make changes to the Master Checklist, or download and install a taxonomy update, run the utility again to ensure that all the world species are included in the band code facility.

Exceptions to the standard rules:

There are 19 world species that have five-word names. In those cases, the fifth word is ignored and the code is derived from the first four words, just as with four-word names.

There are two species that have an apostrophe in the first part of the name: D'arnoud's Barbet and D'orbigney's Chat-tyrant. Due to technical considerations, we have not yet decided on a special band code strategy for those species -- they will not be included in the band code facility.

This facility is so powerful, and can save you so much time, after you have become comfortable with AviSys we encourage you to go back to the User's Guide and practice using the band code rules. You will find that with just a little use they become instinctive -- getting to birds, in World or N.A. mode, will be amazingly quick and fun! Of course, don't forget the Jump Tables (the right mouse button) -- that's a powerful tool, too!