Finding Codes

The birding codes used on this web site describe how likely an experienced birder (one who is familiar with the local birds, by sound as well as by sight) is to find a particular species during a morning (or evening, for nocturnal species) of serious birding, in the proper habitat. This is not the same thing as describing how common a species is, which is much more complicated. There is a separate code for each week (actually, quarter-month) of the year.

It is important to remember that any attempt to represent how easy it is to find a bird, using a single code, has to be a gross oversimplification. That said, this checklist should help with knowing when to expect a bird, and, just as important, when it is unexpected.

The codes used on this web site are based on the codes developed by David Styer and me for the Cincinnati Nature Center’s checklist, around 2001. Codes A through D are the ones used there; a few years later, I added Code E for the less frequent, but still regular, species. The codes are:

  1. Easily found; should find on almost all your trips, without making a special effort.
  2. Usually found; should find on most trips, although it may take a persistent effort.
  3. Often missed, even with effort.
  4. Hard to find; missed much more often than found.
  5. Very hard to find; may not be present at all at this time in some years, but has occurred often enough to form a pattern.

The codes on the current checklist rely heavily on eBird reports from the decade 2011 through 2020. I want to thank the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, at Ithaca, New York, for allowing me access to their eBird Basic Dataset, which includes essentially all the validated reports ever made to eBird. There are some notable differences between this list and the one we compiled 20 years ago, which was based on reports to the old cincinnatibirds.com web site. There have been noteworthy changes in how common some birds are, as well as when they arrive and leave our area. Perhaps more obvious to the casual birder, there have also been changes to the common names of some species, and the way that the standard checklist is ordered has been changed considerably. This checklist follows the 61st Supplement to the American Ornithological Society checklist and the American Birding Association Checklist Version 8.0.8.

We can expect to see more changes to our local avifauna, and I hope to update this list more often than every 20 years. If you notice any errors, or believe that changes are necessary, please write to me at the email address below.

Ned Keller

nedkeller49@gmail.com