birding-aus Bird Names vs Code numbers

To: "Michael Todd" <>, "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Bird Names vs Code numbers
From: "Philip A Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 14:52:26 +1100

Michael's message about using bird code numbers is absolutely right.
Canberra Ornithologists Group uses the RAOU Atlas numbers, so the database
and Garden Bird Survey database (Microsoft Access) stores all bird records
in that form. What a horror show it would be to type in a bird name for
every record. With over 42000 GBS count records and over 3000 breeding
records, such a scheme is necessary. What you see on screens and reports is
the bird name that links to the number. Bird species can be entered by
either typing in the number, selecting the name from a drop down list or
starting typing in the name and the computer does the looking up and
matching. There is however a problem in that the Atlas numbers are all over
the place and do not include things like all the lovebird species and other
foreign pets that we need to account for. Therefore I have other fields that
enable sorting either by the Christidis & Boles list or the earlier list
that was around before then (I call them TAX_OLD and TAX_NEW, though they
have nothing to do with John Howard). Other numbers have been conjured up
for those foreign species when they occur.
-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Todd <>
To: bird oz <>; Tony Russell
Date: Friday, 5 March 1999 14:21
Subject: Re: birding-aus Names vs numbers

>Hello all,
>I think perhaps I better explain what I was getting at when I suggested
>numbers were better than names for databases. I don't want people to think
>that I want to change the names of all our birds to numbers!
>My point was in relation to the difficulties that people have when they are
>trying to fit different databases (like National Parks databases and Museum
>databases etc) together into one more complete database that can be used to
>analyse distributions etc. When I was putting together a database of fauna
>distribution in Lake Macquarie I had a cow of a job trying to fit National
>Parks database records and Australian Museum database records together with
>Hunter Bird Observers Club records and so on.
>First of all, if names are used in a database as the sole reference to a
>certain species in a record then there is the problem of changing
>nomenclature as Alex Appleman found. Even worse though is if the records
>have been entered manually into the database as species names (ie the whole
>name typed in each time a record is entered). When this happens you have
>added problem of spelling mistakes as well as people using different
>scientific names. If you search for a set of records for a particular
>species, you only get those records that have been spelled and named
>as you asked for it. If however, the database uses numbers instead
>(preferably a standard set of numbers like the Atlas numbers) then when you
>want to look up the records for a certain species, you use the number and
>have more chance of getting the complete set. When you try to combine
>databases, if a standard set of numbers has been used, it can be relatively
>easy. For example, 261 is a hell of a lot harder to mispell than
>Psittaculirostris diophthalma! This doesn't mean that names have to be
>thrown away. I know with the databases that I use, the underlying records
>always use numbers but the visual forms that I use to enter records use
>names (using combo boxes in Microsoft Access) so that I don't have to look
>at or remember boring numbers!
>I hope all that made some sort of sense!
>Michael Todd
>Finch Researcher,
>Dept.of Environment and Heritage,
>Pormpuraaw, Qld, Australia, 4871
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Tony Russell <>
>To:  <>
>Date: Friday, 5 March 1999 12:04
>Subject: birding-aus Names vs numbers
>>Following Rob Leask's ideas, we could all then discuss which birds, by
>>numbers,we actually had last night at the Chinese Restaurant! And no-one
>>would be any the wiser when we say we have enjoyed a 420 hotpot
>>Casserole). Ho yes, that 379 open sandwich didn't have a single feather in
>>it!  (of course not, it hadn't fledged yet).
>>I think we've gone off track a bit. T.
>>Tony Russell
>>Ph: 08 82078470W
>>    08 83375959H
>>Fax:08 82078422
>>e mail: 
>>Adelaide South Australia.
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