The American Ornithological Society, will ultimately see all species of birds in the United States and Canada renamed to “address past wrongs and engage far more people.”
The AOS announced Wednesday that starting in 2024, it will begin changing the names of 70-80 birds currently named after people. Whether or not this initiative for the birds will fly with zoologists and the general public remains to be seen.
“There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today. We need a much more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses attention on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves,” said AOS president Colleen Handel, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska.
“Everyone who loves and cares about birds should be able to enjoy and study them freely — and birds need our help now more than ever,” added Handel.
The AOS has dabbled in this practice of erasing history to cater to the sensitivities of contemporary ideologues for years. In 2020, the AOS renamed McCown’s Longspur the Thick-billed Longspur. This prairie bird, also known as Rhynchophanes mccownii, was originally named after John P. McCown, an amateur avian collector who was a Confederate general.
Audubon reported that the 2020 decision was in part the result of the social justice Bird Names for Birds pressure campaign, whose activist organizers claimed that “eponyms (a person after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named or thought to be named) and honorific common bird names (a name given to something in honor of a person) are problematic because they perpetuate colonialism and the racism associated with it.”
Filed under not a surprise –The campaign was supported by various leftist factions, including the Black & Latinx Birders Scholarship, the Anti-racist Collective of Avid Birders, the Feminist Bird Club, and Philly Queer Birds.
In August 2020, the AOS announced it was committed “to evolve with respect to issues of social justice. … It is encouraging to see that the ornithological community in North America as a whole is embracing this mission and recognizing the need for greater efforts toward inclusion, as evidenced by the massive support for Black Birders Week, Black Lives Matter, and other recent and important social movements that we’ve seen gain momentum in the public sphere.”
AOS has made clear it will not stop until every last bird — at least 260 species with people’s names — is renamed to the satisfaction of activists.
While the names birders and virtually everyone else have grown accustomed to will be erased, the AOS indicated that scientific names for the birds will be preserved. The bald eagle could, for instance, lose its familiar moniker, but it would remain the Haliaeetus leucocephalus.
The Eskimo curlew, the Inca dove, and the flesh-footed shearwater are among the many names on the chopping block, reported USA Today.
Scott’s oriole, named for Winfield Scott, will similarly be depersoned. Scott served as commanding general of the U.S. Army from 1841 to 1861, serving in the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, and the Mexican-American War. Not only did Scott, said by Ulysses S. Grant to have been “the finest specimen of manhood [his] eyes had ever beheld,” capture Mexico City and defeat General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s armies on multiple occasions, but he later went on to advise President Abraham Lincoln at the outset of the Civil War. Despite his service to the nation that made the OAS possible, Old Fuss and Feathers will reportedly no longer have a bird to his name on account of his hand in driving Cherokee Indians from their lands.
The AOS indicated that it is establishing a new committee to oversee this destructionist campaign, vowing to ensure that its members will be “diverse” with “expertise in the social sciences, communications, ornithology, and taxonomy.”