Re: birding-aus Names vs numbers

Subject: Re: birding-aus Names vs numbers
From: David James <>
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 15:47:16 +1000

I appreciate the advantages of using numbers in databases, but they should
be used as well as names not instead of them. Numbers are perfectly easy to
misspell, and once misspelt they refer to a different species. To trace and
correct this problem you need more information ie a name. to correct
misspelt names you just need an editor. Misspelt numbers in the first Atlas
were a huge problem. Some numbers were regularly misspelt. Many regular
misspellings were discovered, but I bet many were not.

When I was working on an ABW paper on Grass Owls a few years back a referee
kindly took the trouble to access records from the Aust. Bird And Bat
Banding Scheme (ABBS). The ABBS had records of 3 juveniles banded in the
wildflower gardens in Kuringai Chase National Park, St Ives, Sydney (don't
go twitching just yet Lorne). The bander was reliable so the idea of
misidentified Barn Owls was eliminated. But I grew up near there and happen
to know that Grass Owls don't breed in the area, they don't like sandstone
escarpments, and they don't like eucalypt forests. Nevertheless the editor
insisted that we explore the possibility. Fortunately we discovered that in
fact they were three Rainbow Lorikeets whose numbers were misspelt!

I think letter codes do a better job than numbers because they are
self-prompting. but alas they to have their problems which wer have been
over in detail.... Nevertheless GRAOW is harder to misspell than 252.

At 13:00 5/03/99 +1100, Michael Todd wrote:
>....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 misspell than
>Psittaculirostris diophthalma! 

I cna mipsell 216 eesy!

David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre 4810

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