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What bird name would like to change?


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17 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Down that path lies madness.  Tennessee, Nashville, and Palm Warblers, and Orchard Orioles come immediately to mind.

12 minutes ago, Kevin said:

I have the exact same thought about renaming all the birds named after people, but that doesn't seem to be stopping anyone. 

Agreed

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I see so many great reasons to change honorific bird names. Many respected and well known people in the ornithological community, and larger birding community (including many large bird related organizations) support doing so. 
 

I’m curious as to the reasons people on this thread want to keep honorific names? 

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58 minutes ago, DLecy said:

I’m curious as to the reasons people on this thread want to keep honorific names? 

My guess, at least for the general population, would be tradition and familiarity.

The simpler answer is the magnitude of the changes. Species splits usually aren't a big deal, and the old name can still be used to refer to an individual that is difficult to identify further (e.g. Western Flycatcher in Southern Nevada). Occasional name changes aren't that much effort to make a note of if you're using an outdated paper field guide. However, if a hundred birds in the field guide suddenly changed names, there are going to be many uninformed birders out there ignorant of the sweeping changes who still comment on the Allen's Hummingbirds, Nuttall's Woodpeckers, and Cooper's Hawks in their yards because that's what their field guide they bought last year says they are. More conservative birders may prefer using the honorific names because they've used them for 40 years, and learning new names can be seen as a lot of effort.

The less friendly answer may be fairly politically charged, with some of the opposed sharing the same beliefs as those opposed to the removal of Confederate monuments. I digress, however, because I don't want this thread to turn into a feud, and I doubt this reason applies to many people here. 🙂

Edited by Zoroark
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1 hour ago, Zoroark said:

My guess, at least for the general population, would be tradition and familiarity.

The simpler answer is the magnitude of the changes. 

Thanks for providing some of the purported reasons.

As for the first one, I would think this is a pretty hollow. One example, in roughly the same vein; the school district where I work went through a name change a few years back. We used to be the Dixie School District. Opponents of the name change pointed to history, tradition, and some dubious claims about the origin of the name, and so on. There were some other reasons too, which included the cost associated with the change (signage, letterhead. etc.). *It's important to note that the impassioned testimony of many BIPOC were almost entirely dismissed by the group of people who wanted to keep the name. The topic was VERY controversial. Board meetings were heated and horrible, the process made national news, and it divided many people in the community. In the end, the School Board voted to change the name of the district, and there has been very little, if any, fanfare since. The new name is not offensive to anyone, and the old one was to some.

As for the second point, this is worth considering, but I think it's important to note that there have been lots of changes already in the history of modern ornithology, and the species' scientific names would not change. Common names being difficult for birders to remember is hardly reason to keep a name, in my opinion. 

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2 hours ago, DLecy said:

In the end, the School Board voted to change the name of the district, and there has been very little, if any, fanfare since.

Some people are just opposed to any change, and will cry 'Tradition!' if they can find no other reason.

Last year NASCAR made a rules change and moved the car numbers from the middle of the door to closer to the front wheel opening.  It had literally no affect on the racing, only the appearance of the cars.  From all the screaming and wailing, you would have thought nuclear weapons were being used.  'The numbers have always been in the middle!  I'm not buying any more T-shirts or die cast cars or souviners or nothing!'  Four weeks into the season, all the ranting had died out. 

I'm in IT, so I'm used to aspects of my field changing literally monthly.  I try to be sympathetic but it's not like the world is static.  I find 'Tradition!' to be the weakest justification for continuing an outdated practice.  If someone finds new common names to be confusing, they can always use the Latin.  They can also do what I do when I refer to a 'Rufous-sided Towhee': shrug and correct yourself.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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51 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

The link doesn't show 'American' anywhere on the web page when I look at it. Could you take a screenshot of whatever it is that you're seeing that says American Black Vulture.

If you set it to English (UK) on the page I linked, it'll show up as "American Black Vulture." The Bank Swallow will also show up as "Sand Martin," as an example. That's why I figured their language settings may have gotten changed.

Edited by Zoroark
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2 hours ago, Snake Fingers said:

“I see dead people” 

Anybody seen “Sixth Sense”? Yeah me neither, but my mom always quotes “I see dead people” from that movie, and we were talking about not seeing the ABVU name so I thought of that immediately.(yeah I know I have issues)

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2 hours ago, DaBirb said:

European robin should be changed to European Flycatcher, if you ask me. Also, the brown backed solitaire should be the brown WINGED solitaire.

I would say our robins are the ones that need to be changed. They call a lot of their "old world flycatchers" robins, and have for a long time. Our robins are only called American Robins because they looked vaguely like the European Robin to English Settlers.

Edited by Avery
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I prefer the French name (bois-pourri, or rotten wood) for Whip-poor-wills to the English one. 

And the Loggerhead Shrike. Birds of the World tells us their name in Mexico is the American Executioner or the American Hangman, a bit more descriptive of that bird's behavior than Shrike. 

Meanwhile, I just had this conversation with another birder: What's a Knot and why?

There are a few good books about bird names, for those interested...

Stephen Moss' Mrs. Moreau's Warbler, though it largely focuses on UK names.

Susan Meyer's The Bird Name Book, which is a catalog of English language names. 

 

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2 hours ago, JaredD said:

Susan Meyer's The Bird Name Book, which is a catalog of English language names. 

I just got this book and have been slowly reading through it. Still in the B's.

2 hours ago, JaredD said:

Meanwhile, I just had this conversation with another birder: What's a Knot and why?

I'll look this up when I get a chance and report back

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55 minutes ago, neilpa said:

I'll look this up when I get a chance and report back

Hopefully you do better than I did!

3 hours ago, JaredD said:

Meanwhile, I just had this conversation with another birder: What's a Knot and why?

Here’s what I found on the oh so reputable Wikipedia: 

The red knot was first described by Carl Linnaeusin his landmark 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae as Tringa canutus.[3] One theory is that it gets its name and species epithet from King Cnut; the name would refer to the knot's foraging along the tide line and the story of Cnut and the tide.[4] There appears to be no historical foundation for this etymology.[5] Another etymology is that the name is onomatopoeic, based on the bird's grunting call note.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_knot

The page on Great Knot had nothing about the common name. 

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1 hour ago, neilpa said:

I just got this book and have been slowly reading through it. Still in the B's.

I don't know what I was expecting.  The ABA podcast was nuts for it.  I'm finding it a bit dry.  I'll read almost anything during lunch (including a 1400+ page history of SC that took a couple of years) but I'm can't say this is holding my interest.

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