Maybe we should have BOW codes on iNaturalist

BOW stands for “Birds of the World”. Usually, we only include lexicons if they’re languages, but it seems that we make exceptions for some short code lexicons like AOU codes.

Recently, a number of 4 letter codes have been added for birds outside of North America, under the English lexicon. Maybe the person adding the codes did so because they wished there were short codes for birds outside of North America. And indeed there are, namely BOW codes.

I’m not sure whether we should really add BOW codes as a lexicon though. After all, BOW codes are used in BOW and eBird URLS. Maybe iNaturalist should allow searching for taxa by using IDs from other sites. Also, I’m not sure BOW codes are notable enough.

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See previous topic: AOU-like codes added for species not occurring in North America

BotW/eBird codes contain duplicates which violates one of iNat’s taxon guidelines.

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What are you talking about? What duplicates? The codes that are the same except for the number at the end? Those aren’t duplicates; the number is part of the code.

By the way, I think the no duplicates rule means don’t add the same name in the same lexicon to the same taxon, and don’t add silly homonyms. But it actually doesn’t mean no homonyms at all, because unfortunately, if iNaturalist had an absolute no homonyms rule, it would actually have to deviate from the literature, as hemihomonyms exist. Also, because languages are full of homonyms. Again, not using them would deviate from the literature.

Please read the thread that @swampster linked to above, and you will understand what he’s talking about.


It seems that you have confused BOW codes, which don’t contain homonyms, with Quick Find Codes, which do. This topic is about the former. I didn’t even know about the latter.

I don’t think the inclusion of Quick Find Codes on iNaturalist would be against the rules, just because they contain homonyms. The examples iNaturalist gives of prohibited duplicate names are silly things like giving subspecies the same name as their parent species.

Can you link to the list of BotW codes? The site uses a “code” of some sort (6 letters followed by a number) in the URL for each species, but I don’t see anywhere that suggests this “lexicon” is used outside of web navigation purposes. They don’t even show up in the “names” tab for any given species.

As I said in the previous thread:

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I’d agree that the benefits of adding these codes don’t seem sufficient to warrant doing so. As they are based on the first letters of the species’ name, they don’t add much functionality that doesn’t already exist when searching for names. Because they include numbers, they are likely harder to memorise than other codes.

If I want to search for Purple-winged Ground Dove, it’s basically as easy to type “p w g dov” as it would be to remember “pwgdov1”.


I’ve no idea if it exists yet or not, but these types of codes could easily be entered as observation fields.

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