New release: Bird Codes app

I am excited to announce the release of the first app from Nemesis Code, a collaboration between Nemesis Bird and my brother, James Stuckey Weber who actually took the idea and turned it into an app. Our first app is Bird Codes, an app that enables you to quickly look up alpha codes, or short 4-letter codes for bird species.

I find alpha codes very useful for quickly recording my sightings without writing down entire bird names. This allows me to spend more time birding and less time looking down at my field notes. In addition, eBird allows you to search for birds by their alpha code during checklist submission. This allows me to quickly enter long lists of sightings and spend more time entering notes on the birds. You can also use alpha codes on the data exploration pages.

Using the app is very simple. You can select whether to search by the species name or by alpha code. As you type, the options will narrow down until you see the species you are searching for. Touching the species will then show you a screen with the alpha code, species name, and the scientific name for the species. When you are searching by species name, you can type a generic name such as ‘warbler’ to be able to scroll through the different warblers and quickly compare all the alpha codes.

The app covers all the birds that have been recorded within the AOU area. We chose to use the alpha codes suggested by Pyle and DeSante in their 2003 article in North American Bird Bander. The codes have been updated to the include the most recent changes in the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-List of North American Birds.

The app is available for 99¢ from the App Store and runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. You can leave any feedback at Nemesis Code.

Note – There are other systems of alpha codes available, including those used by the Bird Banding Lab, and a slightly different one used for Breeding Bird Surveys. However, the Pyle and DeSante system is the most extensive, covering all the species, not just those that are banded.


Pyle, P., and D. F. DeSante. 2003. Four-letter and six-letter alpha codes for birds recorded in the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list area. North American Bird Bander 28:64-79.

American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU; R.T. Chesser, et al., comps.). 2011. Fifty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-List of North American Birds. Auk 128:600-613.