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Correct order to describe a bird


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Sorry for the vague title.  When listing a specific bird in say, a photo caption, what is the "proper" order, if there is one?  Is it species, then age, sex, morph, etc?  For example; Adult, light morph, Western RTHA. Or Red-tailed Hawk (Western), light morph, adult, male.  Etc.  The possibilities are endless.  I suppose I could list the bird description in any order I choose, as long as I'm consistent.  But if there's a "correct" way, I'd rather use that.

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Looks like species first, followed by "descriptors" like Red-tailed Hawk (Western), adult, dark morph, male, etc.  But even if I do it this way, is it species, then subspecies?  I think it looks (and sounds) much better to say Western Red-tailed Hawk, instead of Red-tailed Hawk, Western, etc.  I realize it probably doesn't matter and most people probably don't even care.  But to feed my OCD...

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17 minutes ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

Not sure if you're aware, @smittyone@cox.net, but there are other forums you can post your birding questions in. You could post this in General Birding Topics, for example, since this particular forum is mainly for bird identification. Good question!

Thanks, I didn't know.  I'll re-post the question there.

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10 hours ago, smittyone@cox.net said:

I think it looks (and sounds) much better to say Western Red-tailed Hawk, instead of Red-tailed Hawk, Western, etc.  I realize it probably doesn't matter and most people probably don't even care.  But to feed my OCD...

I agree...but that is just my OCD thoughts! 🙂

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Who's going to be seeing these descriptors?  How are they being applied?  If you're working for an audience of one (you), then go with whatever makes you happy.

I'd go in order of how likely you are to have each item. 

  • Start with species; if you don't know that, you won't get anything else anyway.
  • Then subspecies
  • Then color morph
  • In many species, the male and female are identical.  It seems to me you're more likely to be able to tell juveniles / immatures / sub-adults from mature birds, so I'd go with age third.
  • Then finally sex, if it can be determined.

If you could provide more information on the circumstances, I might be able to suggest a better approach.  If you're trying to included all this in file names, tags may be a better method.

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