How did we get here?
Notes, photos, and inspiration from the field

Bird Codes

The four-letter bird codes (or alpha codes) on each bird page on this site are the abbreviation used by ornithologists and bird watchers. They are also called banding codes because they are stamped on the small aluminum bands put on birds legs to help track where they travel. It is easy and can be fun to learn the bird codes!

The general rule to create bird codes is:

  • For birds with a one-word name, use the first 4 letters: IE Merlin = MERL.
  • For birds with two-word names, use the first 2 letters of the first word and first 2 letters of the second word: IE Wood Thrush = WOTH
  • For birds with three-word names when the first word is hyphenated, use the first letter of first and second words, and first 2 of the last word: IE Blue-winged Warbler = BWWA

There are some exceptions to these rules so take a deeper dive by visiting the Institute for Bird Populations which includes birds of Mexico. 

An example of bird codes, MERL, WOTH, BWWA

This is an ongoing project. Check back again for more birds and notes from the field!