AOS Publicizes Plan to Revise Eponymous Fowl Names—What Does That Imply for eBirders?

In case you had the chance to call the species pictured above what would you name it? One thing descriptive about its plumage or habitat preferences, or possibly a notable conduct?

Widespread names for birds assist us to understand their particular, singular qualities. A reputation can enhance our understanding of a species (for instance, the Snail Kite is called for its weight-reduction plan of virtually completely snails) and even spark our creativeness (think about Shining Sunbeam, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Spectacled Spiderhunter, or Firewood-gatherer).

In distinction, a typical identify that doesn’t describe a chicken properly could make it tougher to establish and keep in mind. Some chicken names may even trigger unintended hurt and exclusion by carrying associations with historic injustices.

These are a number of of the explanations given by the American Ornithological Society (AOS)—the group answerable for sustaining the Guidelines of North American Birds—as a part of its recently-announced dedication to “altering all English-language names of birds inside its geographic jurisdiction which are named straight after folks (eponyms), together with different names deemed offensive and exclusionary, focusing first on these species that happen primarily inside the U.S. or Canada”. Learn the full AOS Council assertion saying these commitments and go contained in the AOS advice to alter eponymous chicken names on All About Birds.

Quick Details

When is that this occurring? The timing continues to be to be decided. The AOS will first develop a pilot course of with a small variety of species, then addresses modifications on a rolling timeframe. No modifications will occur on eBird, Merlin, or different Cornell Lab initiatives earlier than the following annual taxonomy replace in October 2024.

What number of species? The AOS Advert Hoc Committee on English Fowl Names really helpful altering all English chicken names inside the AOS purview which have been named after folks, plus three further names. This would come with 152 English names on the checklist inside the North American Classification Committee area and 111 further ones lined by the South American Classification Committee (in whole, about 5.5% of English chicken names that AOS oversees). The primary focus will probably be 70-80 species within the U.S. and Canada, recognizing the necessity to interact in broader conversations in Latin America earlier than continuing with identify modifications there. Learn the committee’s full set of suggestions.

How will new names be determined? The American Ornithological Society will set up a brand new committee to supervise the project of all English frequent names inside its geographic purview. The committee will embody people whose experience represents the social sciences, communications, ornithology, and taxonomy.

Moreover, the AOS has dedicated to actively involving the general public within the course of of choosing new names. Which signifies that, over the following few years, you’ll doubtless have an opportunity to weigh in on what eBirders within the US and Canada name this species, or this one.

The place can I study extra? Extra data will be discovered within the Advert Hoc English Fowl Names Committee’s Ultimate Report, in addition to the English Fowl Names Venture FAQ and FAQ: Adjustments to Eponymous Fowl Names on All About Birds.


What does this choice imply for eBird, Merlin, Birds of the World, Macaulay Library, and different Cornell Lab initiatives?

The taxonomy utilized by initiatives at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the eBird/Clements Taxonomy, is a consensus taxonomy that has usually deferred to regional authorities for classification and nomenclature. For species occurring inside the Americas, the eBird/Clements Taxonomy has adopted the AOS’s Guidelines of North and Center American Birds and Guidelines of South American Birds.

When these regional checklists are revised by their respective committees, they often change within the eBird/Clements taxonomy as properly, with minor exceptions (e.g., if the suggestions of two committees differ). We incorporate these revisions as soon as per yr throughout our annual Taxonomy Replace. Due to this fact, no modifications will probably be made to English frequent names within the eBird database till October 2024 on the very earliest.

This announcement solely pertains to the English frequent names of eponymous birds (birds named after folks) occurring primarily inside the AOS’s geographic purview. English names in different areas will proceed to be decided in session with associate organizations in these areas. In case you use one in all eBird’s greater than 95 regional language variations, you might not discover any change in any respect. Likewise, scientific names usually are not impacted by this choice.

What would you identify the quail pictured above? eBirders might quickly get to weigh in on revised English frequent names for this and different species within the US and Canada which are at the moment named after folks.


There are nonetheless many particulars to work out. A timeline has not been set, nor have any new names been determined. The AOS will subsequent be launching a pilot to “work out the logistics of enterprise this vital effort.” Our groups on the Cornell Lab are supportive of this course of and optimistic that it’ll end in a web profit to birding over time. We really feel that giving birds names that describe and honor the organism itself has the potential to make birding accessible to extra folks.

However, we acknowledge the large influence of this choice when it comes to each constructive alternatives and the potential challenges. Taxonomic establishments routinely rename birds for scientific causes, however by no means earlier than have so many names been slated to begin the method of revision directly. Adjustments of this magnitude are sometimes onerous; studying new chicken names itself will be tough and complicated.

Luckily, our expertise platforms at this time make it simpler to study and use new chicken names than ever earlier than. eBird and Merlin are dedicated to leveraging our current instruments and assets, particularly a number of variations of frequent names, to serving to birders within the AOS area adapt to those modifications. (We have been capable of regulate from Grey Jay to Canada Jay, in spite of everything!) We’re excited for the chance to have interaction a big and various neighborhood of voices to generate chicken names which are simpler to study, keep in mind, and establish with.

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