The American Ornithological Society announced plans to replace human names with imaginative, descriptive names for dozens of bird species in the United States and Canada. This initiative

aims to foster a more welcoming environment for bird enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds. After years of controversy surrounding bird names linked to individuals with racist or genocidal histories, the society intends to remove all honorific human names to avoid value judgments about past figures. Instead, birds will be given names based on their characteristics, behavior, or habitat. The renaming process will involve 70 to 80 bird species in the U.S. and Canada, promoting a more inclusive approach to ornithology.

"I'm really excited about this change," said Corina Newsome, an ornithologist and advocate for diversity in birding. The decision reflects a significant shift in how bird names are approached, focusing on celebrating birds themselves. Descriptive names like "blue-footed booby" and "red-headed woodpecker" will replace obscure or honorific names.

This move to rename birds has been driven by a desire to address past wrongs and make the birding community more inclusive, welcoming, and accessible to people from various backgrounds. The renaming process will also include changing names considered derogatory or culturally inappropriate for certain birds. A pilot project will commence in 2024, involving up to 260 birds with human-related names across the Americas and associated islands.

The American Ornithological Society is dedicated to ensuring that science and birding are accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their background. This renaming initiative aims to create a more equitable and inviting environment for bird enthusiasts, where birds can be appreciated for their unique characteristics and behaviors. By replacing human names with descriptive and imaginative names, the society hopes to inspire a deeper appreciation for the natural world. Photo by John James Audubon, Wikimedia commons.