The American Ornithological Society (AOS) announced Wednesday it will be renaming dozens of birds to “address past wrongs,” according to the association’s website.
The AOS agreed in April 2021 that birds named after slave owners and colonialists should be renamed to make the bird watching community more inclusive. The effort to rename birds will focus on 70-80 species that exist mostly within the U.S. and Canada and is a part of the decision to “reframe the issue of birds named after people altogether,” according to the AOS.
“As scientists, we work to eliminate bias in science. But there has been historic bias in how birds are named, and who might have a bird named in their honor. Exclusionary naming conventions developed in the 1800s, clouded by racism and misogyny, don’t work for us today, and the time has come for us to transform this process and redirect the focus to the birds, where it belongs,” Judith Scarl, AOS Executive Director and CEO, said in a statement.
“There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today,” Colleen Handel, president of the society, said.
The AOS renamed the McCown’s Longspur, a small prairie songbird found on the Great Plains, to Thick-billed Longspur, according to the statement. The bird’s original name honored John P. McCown, a general in the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War, but the name “was perceived as a painful link to slavery and racism.”
“Ornithologists have long grappled with historical and contemporary practices that contribute to the exclusion of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, including how birds are named,” the AOS announcement reads.
The AOS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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