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Renaming all North American Birds (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Problem with Aggressive Hawk is that it either implies all other hawks are peaceful, or implies that Cooper's is especially aggressive. Goshawk is far far more aggressive stateside than Cooper's. Also aggressive is such a generic word that in conversation it might be difficult if someone is referring to the behavior of a given hawk or the species. If I am attacked by an aggressive hawk, does that mean I was attacked by an Aggressive Hawk, or just a territorial bird of another species? It's like naming a gull Large Gull...okay, do you mean it was a gull that was big, or that it was the specific species Large Gull?
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Problem with Aggressive Hawk is that it either implies all other hawks are peaceful, or implies that Cooper's is especially aggressive. Goshawk is far far more aggressive stateside than Cooper's. Also aggressive is such a generic word that in conversation it might be difficult if someone is referring to the behavior of a given hawk or the species. If I am attacked by an aggressive hawk, does that mean I was attacked by an Aggressive Hawk, or just a territorial bird of another species? It's like naming a gull Large Gull...okay, do you mean it was a gull that was big, or that it was the specific species Large Gull?

You've not heard of Little Gull? But yes.

75% + of that list of suggested names aren't great. I had another look and actually wondering whether they are hoping to actually get them all changed, or it's just mainly something along the lines of a 'mind exercise'
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
This is definitely an influencing factor, without any doubt at all, let the science do the naming, not politics and not public opinion.

Without wishing to be offensive, what these latecomers to birding are doing, is akin to a Brit, arriving in America and changing all the rules to Ice Hockey. Birding has already become politicised recently, I hope it's a trend that dies, very quickly.

I very much doubt that the Black-lives-matter campaign is a significant factor here. The BLM movement started in 2013 but people have been dropping (or proposing the dropping of) eponymous bird names for decades (or longer). The primary consideration seems to be the desire for bird names to reflect an aspect of the bird rather than the people who found/named them more than a matter of post-colonial sensitivities (which is the other relevant factor, something perhaps allied to the BLM movement but quite distinct from it). Given the usual glacial slowness of changing colloquial names I suspect this process by which these names were arrived at likely go back to well before the BLM movement had a significant profile (and certainly nothing like the current one). About a fifth of the suggested c100 changes relate to "descriptive" names no longer regarded as being useful or accurate (e.g. Canada Warbler).

As for the name changes themselves many I find not in the least objectionable per se and, everything being equal, would much prefer a few names (e.g."Kinglet Vireo vs Hutton's). However, "Whimbrel Curlew", "Pink-Hued Gull" and "Mediterranean Shearwater" are absurd whilst changing Forster's Tern to "Marsh Tern" invites confusion with 'proper' Marsh Terns. The changes are also inconsistent retaining, for example, the name 'sparrow' and 'vulture'. Changing the latter to, say 'Turkey-Vulture' would at least allow us to revert to 'Black' Vulture for what many now call Cinereous or Monk Vulture.

However, everything isn't equal and the names we have are sanctified by use, familiar and remind us of pioneering naturalists who largely have no other monument and, with few exceptions (if any), were people of good character and reputation the commemoration of whom is unlikely to cause disquiet.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Problem with Aggressive Hawk is that it either implies all other hawks are peaceful, or implies that Cooper's is especially aggressive. Goshawk is far far more aggressive stateside than Cooper's. Also aggressive is such a generic word that in conversation it might be difficult if someone is referring to the behavior of a given hawk or the species. If I am attacked by an aggressive hawk, does that mean I was attacked by an Aggressive Hawk, or just a territorial bird of another species? It's like naming a gull Large Gull...okay, do you mean it was a gull that was big, or that it was the specific species Large Gull?

There is plenty birds with generic adjective names, but the worst I met was Pale Crag Martin - it's 3 words, so you automatically don't click it as all being a part of the name - the first time I thought someone is trying to convince me it's a Crag Martin, but a pale one, which was clearly absurd.

To again brag about my language, Czech solves this perfectly, because it flips the word order for binomial names. Normally, you talk "adjective noun", but a species mame is "noun adjective" and it's obvious. But it only works because of declination - which generally makes a a Czech sentence comprehensible regardless of word order.
 

Dave Ball

Well-known member
Why would China make us rename our sparrows?

P.S. our sparrows are not buntings either...the family was split a few years ago.
Don’t come here spoiling things with your facts ;)

On another note, I actually quite like “Ubiquitous Storm-petrel”. Just wish it was a bit more ubiquitous in Britain, particularly inland Britain. After all, if you can get a Great Shearwater in Milton Keynes...
 

StuartReeves

Local rarity
What a dreadful and unimaginative set of suggested names. If you must rename Ross's gull, then why call it pink-hued gull when the name rosy gull would capture that feature in much more euphonious way and would also recall the original name. Similarly, the natural new name for Cooper's hawk should surely be blunt-shinned hawk, comical though the suggestion of aggressive hawk is.

More seriously if you want to get away from names that commemorate Dead Western European Males and the attitudes and history they imply (and there certainly seems to be a case for renaming McCown's longspur at least on that basis) then do it properly. Instead of arbitrarily choosing a new name for its bland correctness, go back to names used by the First Nation Americans and Canadians and use these as the basis of the new names. By nature this would need to be a long process involving a lot of consultation but that's inevitable if you want a credible set of names that birders might actually adopt.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
What a dreadful and unimaginative set of suggested names. If you must rename Ross's gull, then why call it pink-hued gull when the name rosy gull would capture that feature in much more euphonious way and would also recall the original name. Similarly, the natural new name for Cooper's hawk should surely be blunt-shinned hawk, comical though the suggestion of aggressive hawk is.

More seriously if you want to get away from names that commemorate Dead Western European Males and the attitudes and history they imply (and there certainly seems to be a case for renaming McCown's longspur at least on that basis) then do it properly. Instead of arbitrarily choosing a new name for its bland correctness, go back to names used by the First Nation Americans and Canadians and use these as the basis of the new names. By nature this would need to be a long process involving a lot of consultation but that's inevitable if you want a credible set of names that birders might actually adopt.

But then, as per previous arguments, it would cease to be an 'English' language list? By this argument, all European, Boreal species should be known by their Viking names.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I very much doubt that the Black-lives-matter campaign is a significant factor here. The BLM movement started in 2013 but people have been dropping (or proposing the dropping of) eponymous bird names for decades (or longer). The primary consideration seems to be the desire for bird names to reflect an aspect of the bird rather than the people who found/named them more than a matter of post-colonial sensitivities (which is the other relevant factor, something perhaps allied to the BLM movement but quite distinct from it). Given the usual glacial slowness of changing colloquial names I suspect this process by which these names were arrived at likely go back to well before the BLM movement had a significant profile (and certainly nothing like the current one). About a fifth of the suggested c100 changes relate to "descriptive" names no longer regarded as being useful or accurate (e.g. Canada Warbler).

As for the name changes themselves many I find not in the least objectionable per se and, everything being equal, would much prefer a few names (e.g."Kinglet Vireo vs Hutton's). However, "Whimbrel Curlew", "Pink-Hued Gull" and "Mediterranean Shearwater" are absurd whilst changing Forster's Tern to "Marsh Tern" invites confusion with 'proper' Marsh Terns. The changes are also inconsistent retaining, for example, the name 'sparrow' and 'vulture'. Changing the latter to, say 'Turkey-Vulture' would at least allow us to revert to 'Black' Vulture for what many now call Cinereous or Monk Vulture.

However, everything isn't equal and the names we have are sanctified by use, familiar and remind us of pioneering naturalists who largely have no other monument and, with few exceptions (if any), were people of good character and reputation the commemoration of whom is unlikely to cause disquiet.

Not BLM but not far off,
I have previously voiced my objections to segementing our hobby, this is an example of what follows when you do, it's now political.

'This is a list compiled of the regularly occurring birds in North America that have names that we believe should be changed. We took a first pass at offering alternative names. We agree that bird’s should not be named after colonizers, we also think that its generally a poor choice to name any bird after a person. We prefer names that are descriptive to appearance, vocalization, habitat or diet. This undertaking is inspired by discussions during Black Birders Week and from this 10,000 birds article: https://www.10000birds.com/rename-all-birds-named-after-white-people.htm. '
 
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wolfbirder

Well-known member
I have argued for a long time against naming things after things named after something - the classic example being the "Piece Race Bridge" in Prague, named after a race that honored peace (let's put aside for a moment the quality of such honor by a 80's east bloc event), which is redundant and the "Peace Bridge" would be more logical.

Now the Dead Sea does not actually commemorate death, as it is more of a description of the properties of the sea, so I am not sure, if I can raise the same objection against Dead Sea Sparrow, but Dead Sparrow sounds too funny as a species name not to at least try!

EDIT:



Seeing this brilliant argument, I am also willing to settle for Slighty-more-dead-than-usual Sparrow.

3:) Indeed, I like your train of thought.

Some English names are crap I must admit - Hen Harrier - WFT is that all about? Maybe we could call it Persecuted Harrier?
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
3:) Indeed, I like your train of thought.

Some English names are crap I must admit - Hen Harrier - WFT is that all about? Maybe we could call it Persecuted Harrier?

That's a cursed species, it's name in Czech is just a gibberish word (probably some old long disused word, but doesn't even sound like anything). Let's call it "unnameable harrier" and it's solved!
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Given the usual glacial slowness of changing colloquial names I suspect this process by which these names were arrived at likely go back to well before the BLM movement had a significant profile (and certainly nothing like the current one). About a fifth of the suggested c100 changes relate to "descriptive" names no longer regarded as being useful or accurate (e.g. Canada Warbler).

As for the name changes themselves many I find not in the least objectionable per se and, everything being equal, would much prefer a few names (e.g."Kinglet Vireo vs Hutton's). However, "Whimbrel Curlew", "Pink-Hued Gull" and "Mediterranean Shearwater" are absurd whilst changing Forster's Tern to "Marsh Tern" invites confusion with 'proper' Marsh Terns. The changes are also inconsistent retaining, for example, the name 'sparrow' and 'vulture'. Changing the latter to, say 'Turkey-Vulture' would at least allow us to revert to 'Black' Vulture for what many now call Cinereous or Monk Vulture.

I think they point blank said most of these were invented on the spot, not going back decades (a few are not recent ideas...the Ring-necked vs Ring-billed Duck was actually a NACC proposal last spring, which was rejected on the basis of being unnecessary). Hence the mentions in the comments about this being a "work in progress. And as a North American birder and someone who would have to deal with these a lot more than other folks here, I do pretty much hate most of these. There are a few here and there which are clever, but most are not.

As for Turkey-Vulture? bleh. Turkey Condor and Black Condor I can get behind...
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
More seriously if you want to get away from names that commemorate Dead Western European Males and the attitudes and history they imply (and there certainly seems to be a case for renaming McCown's longspur at least on that basis) then do it properly. Instead of arbitrarily choosing a new name for its bland correctness, go back to names used by the First Nation Americans and Canadians and use these as the basis of the new names. By nature this would need to be a long process involving a lot of consultation but that's inevitable if you want a credible set of names that birders might actually adopt.

The problematic part here is that, especially if you are dealing with a widely distributed species, which Native American word are you going to use? People seem to forget that Native Americans are actually made of numerous diverse cultures with different languages. And it assumes that there was a distinct name for each bird we recognize as a species today, and that the name wasn't shared with a completely different species by a completely different tribe or cultural group.
 

D Halas

Well-known member
What possible problem is there with the name "Canada Warbler"? It breeds in 11 out of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
Some English names are crap I must admit - Hen Harrier - WFT is that all about?
All harriers are called "chicken thieves" in Dutch: just a few steps to "hen harrier" from there!

The only name in that list that I found a positive change was "Kinglet Vireo". You know it makes sense!
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
https://www.wildlifeobservernetwork...3o_EBMLWMMjMYaYosQ-pR6QQF3WULzNtpiuDyk7E1RfcY

If you revisit the link you will see a few changes/observations on feedback eg Ross's Goose (Nunavet Goose) and Whimbrel Curlew.

But hey ... I think this is probably a fun starting point with some ideas being bandied about for habitat types and things in replacement and not a serious serious expectation that all will be changing, so we shouldn't diss it too much? We don't know the ages of those taking part. But I'm still upping my disfavour rating to 90% + having had another look ... ;)
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
On another note, I actually quite like “Ubiquitous Storm-petrel”. Just wish it was a bit more ubiquitous in Britain, particularly inland Britain. After all, if you can get a Great Shearwater in Milton Keynes...

It wouldn't exactly roll of the tongue on a seawatch though? Or get shortened and then there could be quite the confusion on a mega seawatch on whether it was an Ubi or a Booby* that you should be trying to get on to ...



(* Although presumably Booby would have to be changed at some point.)
 
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