The American Ornithological Society declared on Wednesday that birds in North America will not be named after individuals anymore.
In the upcoming year, the organization plans to rename approximately 80 species that are native to the United States and Canada.
The president of the organization, Colleen Handel, stated that certain English bird names hold historical connotations that still contribute to exclusion and harm today. She believes that everyone who has a passion for birds should be able to appreciate and learn about them without restrictions.
The organization declared that instead of individually reviewing birds named after people, all of them will be renamed.
Some birds are set to be given new names, such as the Wilson’s warbler and Wilson’s snipe, which were originally named after naturalist Alexander Wilson in the 19th century. The Audubon’s shearwater, a type of seabird named after John James Audubon, will also be receiving a new name.
In the year 2020, the group changed the name of a bird previously known as the Confederate Army general, John P. McCown, to the thick-billed longspur.
Emily Williams, an ornithologist at Georgetown University who was not involved in the decision, expressed her enthusiasm and joy about the announcement.
According to her, there have been ongoing and intense debates among birdwatching groups about the names of birds for several years.
According to her, assigning names to birds according to their environment or physical characteristics is one of the least controversial methods.
The National Audubon Society has recently declared that it will not change its name, despite objections from both critics and members who believe that the organization should disassociate from its ties to John James Audubon, a man whose family owned slaves.
According to Susan Bell, chairperson of the National Audubon Society’s Board of Directors, the name now holds significance beyond one individual’s contributions. In March, she stated to Audubon magazine that there is a need to confront the racist history associated with John James Audubon.
The events of 2020 in Central Park, New York highlighted the discrimination that Black individuals may experience when attempting to partake in outdoor activities.
Christian Cooper, an African American bird enthusiast, was searching for feathered creatures when he requested that a Caucasian woman, Amy Cooper, adhere to the regulations and keep her dog on a leash. Cooper contacted the police, but was subsequently accused of making a fraudulent report. However, the charges were eventually dismissed.
Shortly after, a group of individuals interested in bird watching came together to host the inaugural Black Birders Week in order to amplify the presence of Black individuals who enjoy nature and work in scientific fields.
A petition was submitted by a group called Bird Names for Birds to the ornithological society, urging them to create a plan for altering the harmful common names of birds.
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