Academics at Glasgow University and the University of West of Scotland say e-mail has almost superseded letters and the fax machine as the primary method of written communication, particularly in business.
But they say the increased use of e-mail has also resulted in the development of “particular idiosyncratic patterns of e-mailing behaviour that can either delight or enrage”.
The researchers labelled a total of 12 bird-like characteristics of e-mail users, which are listed right.
They include the “Compulsive Woodpecker”, “Incommunicado Ostrich”, “Caterwauling Peacock” and “Back-Covering Emu”.
Dr Karen Renaud, senior lecturer at Glagow University’s school of computing science, said: “E-mail has rapidly become a vital tool and a lot of people we spoke to say they would not be able to do their jobs without it. However, many people have gripes about e-mail.
“Some people find themselves checking e-mail all the time, even during evenings, weekends and holidays, while others complain about how other people behave when using e-mail.
“When we analysed all the findings, we realised we could categorise e-mail behaviours and match them to the characteristics of some well-known birds.”
Dr Renaud added: “It is likely most people will be able to identify some of their e-mail correspondents with these behaviours and perhaps even recognise their own e-mail style.
“However, what the research really highlights is that e-mail is a great source of stress for many people.
“Too often, e-mail is used instead of a more suitable means of communication, like actually talking to someone.
“People send e-mail without thinking of the cost to the recipient but if everyone does this, we all become much less efficient and no-one wins.
“People need to think before they send an e-mail: is this really the best way of communicating?”
“Even if it is, you should still think before you click.
The full list of email behavioural types:
Compulsive Woodpecker: Can’t resist reading email at all hours of the day and night.
Hibernating Poorwill: Reads email only occasionally so that senders can never rely on them.
Incommunicado Ostrich: Reads emails but doesn~t reply to them. Often to be seen with the Hibernating Poorwill.
Caterwauling Peacock: Broadcasts emails to all and sundry, claiming that people ~need to know~ when actually he is grandstanding.
Pesky Crow: Leans on others by means of email, sending multiple versions of the same document, or sending multiple emails about the same topic. This bird inspires fear and loathing in the hearts of other birds.
Buck-Passing Cuckoo: Sends emails to others asking them to carry out some task she should do herself, and then leaves quickly and mimics the Incommunicado Ostrich so that the unfortunate recipient is left carrying the baby.
Back-Covering Emu: Sends emails in order to be able to prove, at a later date, that the information was passed on.
Camouflaging Woodcock: Uses blind copy to send copies of emails to other recipients without the main recipient’s knowledge. Unlike the Back-covering Emu, this bird is seldom seen in all its glory.
Echoing Mynah: Acknowledges all emails. For example engages in exchange something like: ‘thanks’, then ‘my pleasure’, then ‘thanks again’.
Boorish Parrot: Sends abusive or inappropriate emails and fails to understand why others get upset by them.
Echolalia Mockingbird: A serial forwarder, sending chain emails, online petitions and anything else that takes his fancy. Most of these emails have a subject line starting with ~FW~. This bird is easily ignored by other birds, but doesn~t know why.
Night Owl: The midnight emailer, who fails to understand that others do wish to have ~time out~. This bird flocks with the Lightning Response Hummingbird.
Hoarding Magpie: Keeps hundreds of emails in the inbox but can never find exactly the one they are looking for.
Lightning-Response Hummingbird: Responds immediately to email, and expects an immediate response in return.
Popular Robin: Simply does not allow email to dictate. They take the time to speak to people whenever possible and do not let email to take over their lives. This bird is the, favourite amongst all the birds.