Ornithological society to rename dozens of birds — and stop naming them after people

This photo provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service shows a Wilson’s warbler bird in Alaska. The American Ornithological Society announced Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, that birds in North America will no longer be named after people. In 2024, it will begin to rename around 80 species found in the U.S. and Canada. Birds that will be renamed include those currently called Wilson’s warbler and Wilson’s snipe, both named after the 19th century naturalist Alexander Wilson.

“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 organization’s president, Colleen Handel, said in a statement. “Everyone who loves and cares about birds should be able to enjoy and study them freely.

In 2020, the organization renamed a bird once referring to a Confederate Army general, John P. McCown, as the thick-billed longspur. “I’m really happy and excited about the announcement,” said Emily Williams, an ornithologist at Georgetown University who was not involved in the decision. headtopics.com

She said heated discussions over bird names have been happening within birdwatching communities for the past several years.announced that it would retain its name, even as critics and some voices within the organization have argued that it should dump the association with a man, John James Audubon, whose family owned slaves.

“The name has come to represent so much more than the work of one person,” Susan Bell, chair of the National Audubon Society’s Board of Directors, toldA 2020 encounter in New York’s Central Park served as a public wake-up call about the discrimination that Black people sometimes face when trying to enjoy the outdoors., a Black birdwatcher, was looking for birds when he asked a white woman, Amy Cooper, to follow local rules and leash her dog. headtopics.com

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