A Definition For (Domestic Type)

I’ve been putting a forum post like this for a while, so better now than never, I guess.

I’ve noticed an upward trend in people confusing (Domestic Type) with Captive/Cultivated. I know I’ve argued for an ‘escapee’ tag before, but I realised that (Domestic Type) on several different species serves as that escapee tag.

By reporting something as (Domestic Type), you’ve rendered it useless for data on wild birds (Budgerigars & Cockatiel come up as an example here).

Keeping these observations research-grade can help scientists pin potential breeding populations, which is highly unlikely, but still necessary to see how they interact in the environment with any potential threat to native wildlife.

Domestic Waterfowl are a good example of this since (Domestic) Mallards and Muscovy Ducks can quickly ruin a lake environment.

Most of this logic comes from eBird’s ‘If you report it domestic, it’s not enough to count as a species, but we’ll accept it, but if it’s captive, we won’t.’ rule, which makes sense.

Now, what about birds that don’t have (Domestic Type) offered?
If its something like a Zebra Finch or Nanday Parakeet, which are sold in commercial pet stores, I’d leave them at RG, since they could easily become established with the right climate/conditioning.

I know this will probably be shot down immediately by most people, but I just wanted to get my ideology out there.

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Do you have an example of (Domestic Type)?

If you mean something like Domestic Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata var. domestica), they do reach Research Grade and can be used. True a researcher might exclude them based upon what they are doing.

Captive/Cultivated is a separate thing and has nothing little to do with whether something has been domesticated and bred.

If you spot a Chicken, Zebra Finch, or Nanday Parakeet on a branch or tree, it isn’t Captive/Cultivated. If you find out your neighbor is looking for a lost Zebra Finch or Nanday Parakeet, or perhaps raises chickens, you might change it to Captive/Cultivated.


To add to Clay’s point, some things get automatically annotated as captive (I forget the exact logic behind the algorithm, but I think it has to do with the percentage of previously captive-tagged observations of that species within a certain radius), but even those can be overturned by other users choosing the opposite annotation under data quality.


Differing captive/cultivated from (Domestic Type) was the point of this post. Mostly because someone recently captive’d all the Domestic Cockatiel observations on iNat.

If someone is immediately looking for a lost pet or the animal is a free-range barnyard bird, it should not be counted.

Escapees who have a known origin should be kept captive/cultivated unless they persist to a specific time. This time should vary. If a Zebra Finch escapes and someone you know lost it, then keep an eye out for it about 3 months later. If it’s survived that long, then it should be considered RG.

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An example would be the Domestic Budgerigar, which can survive months given warm climate and friendly species to flock with. One lone Houston bird lived 5 months. He built a nest in expectation for a female, and lived with a flock of Munia before a hawk got him.

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Usually it’s animals that do not have a (Domestic Type) that are flagged. I believe the only thing I’ve observed this with is the Crepe-Myrtle in Texas, which does not flag anymore.

Personally, I’d consider that wild.
If someone marked it captive in the data assessment , I’d probably “at” them asking why, and/or explaining why it should be considered feral/not captive.

And I’d mark it wild myself, because my understanding is that when there is an equal number of “votes” for wild vs captive, they cancel each other out and it goes to the default (wild).

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I looked at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=grid&taxon_id=507971&verifiable=any and it seems the only casual observations are either on people or in cages. There are a few at RG that appear they should be casual (grouped with 5 others of varying colors on a lawn)

Sometimes someone flags something as captive that I don’t think is. I counter-vote and then comment on why I think it is wild.

On the flip-side, sometimes I spot something unknown to me that appears out of place in some plantings. In the description I’ll say that it is in a cultivated area, but appears wild, and let the community decide it’s fate. If it is an ornamental plant, probably just a mis-plant and not wild.


I’ve worked hard on the Budgerigar domestic taxon to keep it all accurate. I know Cockatiel (Domestic Type) has recently been messed up by someone who casual’d everything. Another example of this is in domestic waterfowl, where some people confuse ‘not wild’ and ‘domestic’.

Nobody can mess things up by “casualling everything”. It is a vote situation, and if there is an overzealous identifier marking everything as captive, then find an example where you think they are wrong and:

  1. mark it wild yourself,
  2. tag in others that you think can provide additional opinion,
  3. explain in a comment why you think it is wild
  4. provide a link to the iNat help pages on captive/cultivated
  5. politely ask the overzealous identifier to re-consider their position with regards to captive/cultivated
  6. respect their replies and position, even if it is at odds with your own.
  7. if you still think their position is eggregious, contact help@iNaturalist.org with as much contextual information as you can (they are busy people, do the ground work for them!)

And remember, there is a huge chasm of grey area between our two options for this, so if it is in that grey area, you are never going to get concensus, so just vote your position and let the system decide where it will put it!


I was actually unsure on what you meant by ‘example’, I assumed you meant RG domestics, not casual. Sorry!

I know my definition has flaws. I’ll be using this feedback to fix and improve it. I’ll hopefully finish the definition by the end of the year (if school isn’t overbearing).