Let's Talk Annotations

I guess it just depends on how we define juvenile (which we should do). Is it a technical term for some taxa? I’m no bird expert but I’d have guessed a baby bird is a juvenile.

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As I remember baby bird should be pull., not juv., juvenile refers to grown up, but not sexually mature.

I don’t doubt this is true, but how many of the citizen scientists involved here will get it right? Is there any point in making distinctions people will ignore or predictably get wrong?

I admit I feel a little odd using “juvenile” for everything from a 3-year-old gull to a day-old chick, but I think it’s a reasonable thing to do in this context.


I think it could also act as a learning opportunity. People on the site often mistake one species for another or use the incorrect subspecies. However others can come along and correct them, give them some helpful information and help them gain a broader knowledge. I can see the same happening for the life stages. Sure their might be a few hiccups, but they can always get corrected.

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We should get well-written instructions and guides to use those, but I think it’s possible. I use juv now anyway.

I’m not sure what pull. means as a non-bird person (pullet? or is that just chickens?) but it seems a ‘middle ground’ here that both satisfies the amateur and those who want the correct technical term would be just to have an option like ‘baby/pull/juvenine’ all in one. People could then use fields to track the more detailed distinctions.

My understanding is that a juvenile is a bird in its first full set of feathers. So if it’s naked or just has down, it’s not a juvenile, and if it has moulted out of its first set of feathers but still not an adult (some species take several years to reach their adult plumage; often the juvenile plumage looks distinct) then it’s immature, not juvenile. But I’m not sure exactly where I got that definition from or how universal it is.


And here comes the subadult! :D

Is “Age” an area where iNaturalist and eBird can agree on common definitions of terms? eBird has a table for input of age and sex (and likely has info on this in their help system). Based on all of the comments about ebird and iNaturalist in this post, is there now a communication channel opened up between the two development groups to discuss things like this to reach some consensus? Attached is the eBird input for Age&Sex


We like eBird (I’ve used it multiples this weekend) but the two sites are fairly different and there is no communication channel for discussing these kinds of issues.

Regarding sign and song annotations, here’s a draft I’ve made that I’m sure is incomplete, but I’ve tried to straddle keeping things basic and not providing an overwhelming amount of choices. I also tried to be pretty general and keep it to what I think are pretty commonly-observed signs. Let me know what you think, but please keep in mind these should not be super granular, and that new ones can always be added, I want to get a basic set up first. Also, these are in no particular order, and I left out organism, thinking this should be used only if the evidence is something other than the organism itself.

Type of Evidence

Scat (animalia)
Track or Mark (animalia)
Bone (vertebrata)
Feather (Aves)
Fur (Mammalia)
Shell (mollusca)
Nest (aves/insecta/mammalia/?)
Fruit (plantae)
Leaf (plantae)
Burrow (mammalia/reptilia/amphibia/insecta/arachnida)
Web (spiders/webspinners)
Molt (arthropoda/reptilia)
Call or Song (aves/insecta/reptilia/mammalia/amphibia)


Webs can also be made by caterpillars, and some other insects.
Nests are also made by arachnids.
Moult also applies to birds.
Perhaps include ‘wings’, something like Feathers & Wings. e.g. ant alates drop their wings; when birds eat moths they leave the wings.
Call or Song needs to include arachnida (some scorpions have lovely calls).

There are probably aquatic things one needs to include, but I don’t know what those are. Something like ‘bone’ would need to include corals?


I think moult should be renamed to get less confusion with other groups of animals.

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If I remember rightly, the name for the annotation value can reflect the group/taxa branch involved. Eg larvae vs nymph vs juvenile for lifestage annotation. If any extras you are thinking of can be tied as a rename to any on the list Tony has put together so far, then that can be addressed later. Maybe we could tack them together now? @tiwane Moult could also be termed “exuviae” for insects and arachnids

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@jdmore indicated I should post this here rather than as a feature request, so I’ve copied it over:

Add annotation for insects: gall

Often you’ll come across something that’s obviously insect sign, but doesn’t fit with current set of annotations, but falls into a specific category that is useful for potential identification.

An example is this gall observed in NE Vietnam: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/38424581

Galls are often identifiable to specific species, as is marvelously documented in the Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States.

For people interested in galls specifically (lots of insect/plant crossover interest there) it would be helpful if there as a “gall” annotation option.


Need to add for fungi and arachnids as well because there are gall-formers amongst them.


Fine with me.

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would Shell make sense for Testudines too?

Some birds make burrows too, but I guess those would count under “Nest”.

Also, could keyboard shortcuts for the Alive or Dead annotations be added?

Maybe if they will be only on those taxons they can be used to it’s ok to not change them, at first I thought they all will be in one list.

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That already exists, no? aa for alive, ad for dead, ac for cannot be determined.