Dozens Of Bird Names Are Set To Be Changed
The American Ornithological Society (AOS) has announced a plan to change the names of bird species that were named after individuals, including those with historical associations that are deemed objectionable. This initiative will involve renaming North American bird species, replacing the names of birds such as Lewis’s Woodpecker, Townsend’s Warbler, and Anna’s Hummingbird with names that reflect the species’ geographic location.
In a news release, the AOS stated that they believe the names assigned to bird species carry historical associations that can be considered exclusionary and harmful today. The organization intends to move towards a more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses on the unique characteristics and beauty of the birds themselves.
Colleen Handel, President of the AOS, emphasized the significance of names, stating, “There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today.” The AOS’s goal is to create an environment where everyone, regardless of their background, can enjoy and study birds freely.
This initiative will be implemented starting in 2024, with a focus on renaming up to 80 bird species in the United States and Canada. The decision follows broader national discussions about historical injustices and the need for greater inclusivity, driven in part by events like the death of George Floyd in police custody in May 2020.
The AOS had previously renamed a small prairie songbird named after John P. McCown, a naturalist who later became a general for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, to a “Thick-billed Longspur” in response to nationwide protests and calls for change. The organization’s decision aligns with ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in various aspects of society.
The move to rename bird species with potentially problematic associations is part of a larger trend in the United States, with several states and institutions revisiting names and symbols tied to historical figures and events that have been criticized for their controversial pasts.
Dozens of famous bird species will lose their familiar names in the coming months and years as part of a nationwide effort to eliminate monikers “clouded by racism” and to diversify bird-watching.
Birds aren’t real but apparently they are racist pic.twitter.com/xWw0bDd4hJ
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) November 1, 2023