how many birds are named after people

However, any historical name can become complex and contentious over time due to shifting cultural norms and newly discovered information. In 2015 the U. S. The highest mountain in North America, previously known as Mount McKinley for many years, was renamed Denali by the government following the 25th U.S. S. president William McKinley. Problematic eponyms are another issue facing medicine. One of the most notable examples is the official use of Nazi physician Hans Asperger’s name for a neurodevelopmental disorder that has since been combined with autism spectrum disorder. In the year before its launch, astronomers discussed renaming NASA’s famous new James Webb Space Telescope because its namesake, NASA administrator James Webb, had served as second-in-command at the Department of State during the Lavender Scare, an anti-LGBTQ purge of federal employees in the 1960s. NASA ultimately decided to retain the name, however.

Having been a birder since childhood, Kaufman reports that reactions to the announcement have been inconsistent. “I can understand why a lot of the older people are against it,” he says. “I changed my position from being wholly against the idea to fully in favor of it.” ”.

Colleagues and leaders in the field were the source of many of these bird names, whereas now the practice of naming species for people has gone far beyond acknowledging such individuals. Today celebrities are often top choices for such monikers—take the millipede named for Taylor Swift, the spider named for Bernie Sanders and the wasp named for Brad Pitt.

To J. According to Drew Lanham, a lifelong birdwatcher and conservation and cultural ornithologist at Clemson University, the small brown bird officially known as Bachman’s Sparrow has long been the pinewoods sparrow. He hopes that someday the latter name might become official. That modification would honor the life of the sparrow and the vanishing pine forests through which its song lulls in the Southeast United States in lieu of paying homage to a slave owner and outspoken opponent of abolition. S.

That day is one step closer with an initiative from the American Ornithological Society (AOS), which oversees the official English-language names of birds in the Americas. On November 1 the association announced that it would phase out what are known as eponyms—names that honor specific people. Next year the group will select between eight and 10 birds to rename. In subsequent years it will then tackle the rest of the 70 to 80 species of U.S. and Canadian birds that are currently named for people. In addition to Bachman’s Sparrow, such bird species include Steller’s Jay, Anna’s Hummingbird and Cooper’s Hawk.

This week, the group of ornithologists that determines the official Latin and English names for North American bird species, the American Ornithological Society (AOS), announced that they are starting the process of changing the English names of the roughly 152 North American and 111 South American birds that have been named after people.

Handel states, “With the loss of three billion birds over the last 50 years, birds have been facing unprecedented conservation challenges. We need to have people united in a very positive way towards reversing those declines and taking care of the birds that we have this enormous responsibility for.” She observes that the names of birds serve as a gateway to their world. “We want to make sure that as many people as want to be involved with birds can access this world.” ”.

The renaming effort will begin in 2024 with a subset of eponymously named bird species, still to be selected, that are found primarily in the United States and Canada. The AOS has committed to engaging the public in the renaming process and to establishing a new, permanent committee to oversee the English names of North American birds—one that will include “a diverse representation of individuals with expertise in the social sciences, communications, ornithology, and taxonomy,” according to an AOS statement. Species’ scientific or Latin names, which must follow a much stricter set of rules determined by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, will not be affected.

Every section of a field guide contains birds with eponymous names, such as Wilson’s Plover, Ross’s Goose, and Bullock’s Oriole. Among sparrows alone, 11 different species are named after people. Despite the fact that birders frequently use these names, their origins are sometimes unclear and have been all but forgotten. As white naturalists “discovered” new birds in areas previously inhabited by non-White peoples in the 18th and 19th centuries, many eponymous names were created around the world, naming the birds after the original bird specimen collectors, other scientists, notable individuals of the era, and even their relatives.

Given that many honor people are now known to have committed racist acts, a small but growing group of birders had long recognized that these names could be harmful or exclusive and had started to advocate moving away from them. However, the endeavor acquired new significance and immediacy amid the national and international birding community’s racial reckoning in 2020. Birders Jordan Rutter and Gabriel Foley were inspired to start the “Bird Names For Birds” movement following the Chris Cooper Central Park incident, which happened on the same day as George Floyd’s murder, and the establishment of Black Birders Week. They started a petition to replace common names for birds with names that have no connection to people and instead describe the ecology or appearance of the species—aspects that are also more useful and helpful for making identifications in the field.


What birds are names after people?

In addition to Bachman’s Sparrow, such bird species include Steller’s Jay, Anna’s Hummingbird and Cooper’s Hawk.

Why are birds named after people?

“Eponymous common names are essentially verbal statues. They were made to honor the benefactor in perpetuity, and as such reflect the accomplishments and values that the creator esteemed,” the founders of Bird Names for Birds wrote to AOS.

Should birds be named after people?

The American Ornithological Society has committed to replacing all bird names derived from people so as not to honor figures with racist pasts.

Who named all the birds?

The American Ornithological Society (AOS), the organization of bird scientists that determines the official English and Latin names for North America’s bird species, announced this week that they are embarking on a process to change the English names of the approximately 152 North American birds and 111 South American …