As we shared in a recent article, the American Ornithological Society has just revealed its commitment to changing the English names of 70-80 birds that were named after people. This decision comes as part of the group’s ongoing efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity in the birdwatching world.
AOS Executive Director and CEO Judith Scarl, Ph.D. explains the reason these names will be changed, saying, “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.”
There are over 150 birds who have English names, and the AOS hasn’t shared the official list of which birds’ names will be changed. However, the group has indicated that they’ll be starting with 70-80 birds with eponymous names that are most commonly found in the United States and Canada.
We’ve done a little digging. Based on what we know, here are some birds that could be getting a new name in 2024, with more likely to follow.
This bird is a large, shy, and somewhat drab species of sparrow native to desert regions of Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Sonora. It’s recognized by its rufous flanks, long tail, and black face.
Native to the West Coast of the US, Allen’s Hummingbird is a small and colorful bird known for its bright orange-red throat and metallic green back.
This medium-sized hummingbird, native to the west coast of North America, is noted for its iridescent bronze-green back, a pale grey chest and belly, and a red crown and throat.
A medium-sized songbird predominantly found in the southernmost tips of Texas in the United States, extending into eastern Mexico. It features a striking color scheme, combining a bright yellow body with a black head and white wing bars.
A small seabird that can occasionally be found off the Atlantic coast of the United States, particularly in warmer waters. Known for its dark cap, back and wings, this bird contrasts with its white underparts and characteristic ‘shearing’ flight just above the water’s surface.
Native to North America, this small wader is characterized by a beige coloration, black legs, and a long, straight bill. It’s known to migrate longer distances than any other sandpiper.
This bird is a small sparrow known for its melodious song, predominantly found in the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains in the US and Canada.
This medium-sized sea duck is found in the northern parts of North America, characterized by its dark back and white sides. Males have a purplish-black angular head with a white crescent on the face.
Native to California and Baja California, this medium-sized sparrow features a thick bill, gray face, and heavily streaked reddish-brown upperparts.
This small bird, commonly found in the central United States, is characterized by its olive-green upperparts and white underparts. It has a faint white eye-ring and faint wing bars.
Known for their long curved bill and short wings, Bendire’s Thrashers inhabit the deserts of southwestern North America. Their plumage is uniformly pale gray-brown.
A small songbird found widely across North America, Bewick’s Wren is notable for its long tail, which is tipped in white. Its upperparts are brown and underparts are pale gray.
This small songbird is found in North America and is known for the male’s striking bright orange throat, face, and underparts against a contrasting black head and back.
A small gull commonly found across North America, Bonaparte’s Gull is known for its light grey wings, white underparts, and a black head during breeding season.
This seabird, found on the Pacific Coast of North America, is recognizable by its dark plumage and thin, hooked bill.
These birds are medium-sized blackbirds; males are glossy black, while females are brown. They are native to North America.
The Brewer’s Sparrow is a small, plainly-styled bird with a grey-brown body, distinctive for its long, skylarking song and found mainly in the sagebrush steppe of western North America.
The male Bullock’s Oriole boasts vibrant orange underparts contrasted against a black back and eye line found across Western North America; the female is a more subdued yellow.
A small seabird residing along the Pacific Coast of North America, known for its blue-black upperparts, white underparts, and white eye-ring.
Known for its large size and peaked head, this bird from the finch family exhibits rosy-pinkish underparts in males and is a native of the mountainous regions of Western North America.
A large flycatcher characterized by its gray chest, lemon-yellow belly, and black cap, often spotted in western regions of the United States.
This secretive bird is native to the grasslands of the southwestern United States, displaying a streaky, pale brown body and a longer tail.
Cassin’s Vireo, identifiable by its dark lores and spectacles, is a medium-sized songbird known for its slow, deliberate song and is native to the western U.S. and Mexico.
Known for its white face and black crown, this large waterbird from Western North America is noted for its elaborate courtship dance.
A large member of the crow family, it’s native to the mountainous regions of western North America. They are recognized by their long, sharp bills and black wings with white patches.
A small seabird occasionally found off the West Coast of North America, it has grey upperparts, white underparts, and a dark bill.
Known for its rounded wings and long tail, this medium-sized hawk is a native of the North American continent and is often found in woodland habitats.
This small hummingbird is commonly found in the desert regions of the Southwestern United States and is recognized by the vibrant purple crown and throat of males.
Recognizable by its olive-green upperparts and bright yellow underparts, this large flycatcher is mostly found in southern Texas in the United States.
A rare visitor from Cuba occasionally spotted in Florida, it’s a large woodpecker sporting a tan body and black spots.
A medium-sized tern recognizable by its pale plumage, black cap, and orange-red bill, it can be found near bodies of water across the United States and parts of Canada.
A ground-dwelling bird found in the desert areas of Southwestern United States, recognized by its plump shape and the distinctive black top-knot found on both sexes.
This bird of prey is occasionally found in the Florida Keys, identifiable by its dark grey upperparts and barred underparts.
Uniquely sociable among raptors, Harris’s Hawk displays dark brown and chestnut plumage and is a resident of the Southwestern United States.
Known as winter residents of the Central United States, these birds are the largest North American sparrows, displaying dark brown streaked upperparts and a pink bill.
Found along the West Coast of the United States, this medium-sized gull boasts a distinctive grey body, white head, and red bill.
A small, secretive grassland sparrow, native to central and eastern regions of the United States, recognized by its olive face, streaked brown upperparts, and distinctive song.
This small songbird, found along the West Coast of the United States, looks like a vireo but behaves like a kinglet; it has a sturdy bill and a prominent eye-ring.
Native to California, this small finch is characterized by the male’s bright yellow chest, black face, and gray back.
LeConte’s Sparrows are secretive and small, with a sweet facial pattern, often found in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada.
This bird species, native to the deserts of the southwestern United States, is known for its long tail, pale brown body, and curved bill.
Named for Meriwether Lewis, who discovered the species, this woodpecker has a green-black back, red face, and pink belly and is found in the western United States.
A medium-sized sparrow frequently found across North America, known for its buff-colored body, streaked back, and finely streaked, buffy chest.
The smallest North American warbler, it’s known for its plain gray color, broken white eye-ring, and rusty patch on the rump, and found in the southwestern United States.
Found in California, this woodpecker is known for its black wings spotted with white, black back and striped face.
Occasionally spotted in Alaska, this small bunting is recognized by its heavily streaked brown body.
A gray-brown bird found in marshes along the west coast of North America, it has a long bill, cinnamon throat, and speckled underparts.
Known for its pinkish body, wedge-shaped tail, and black underwing, it’s a rare visitor from the Arctic, occasionally spotted in coastal Alaska and the Great Lakes.
This small, white goose with a short, stubby bill is found in the tundra of Northern Canada and winters in the Southwestern United States.
A small and delicate gull known for its triangular shape in flight, it breeds in the Arctic and can be seen along the coasts during migration.
A medium-sized flycatcher recognized by its gray-brown upperparts and pale cinnamon belly, commonly found in dry, barren areas across western North America.
Found in the southwestern United States, the male is black with bright yellow to orange underparts, while the female is gray with dull yellow underparts.
A small passerine bird breeding in the tundra of Canada and Alaska, it has a yellow face, black chest, and white underparts.
Known for its high, floating song, this secretive bird has a heavily streaked buffy back and clean underparts and is found in the grasslands of central North America.
A small sea duck that breeds along Arctic coasts and winters along the Pacific coast of Alaska and occasionally strays southward along the Atlantic coast.
Found in the forests of western North America, this jay is dark blue and black, with a black, shaggy crest on its head.
A large bird of prey found in western North America, it’s distinguishable by its brown upperparts, white underparts, and dark chest.
Known for its melodic song, this thrush has olive-brown upperparts and buffy underparts and is a common summer resident in forests across North America.
Native to the mountainous regions of western North America, this songbird is recognized by its gray plumage, white eye-ring, and long tail.
A small songbird of the western US, it displays a bold face pattern, with a black cheek and yellow eyebrow and throat.
This small, fast-flying bird is found in the western United States, with dark brown plumage and long, pointed wings.
This small songbird, found in the Southwestern United States, displays a gray head, back, and throat, with a yellow chest and rump.
Found in the Western United States and Canada, males are black with white and yellow, while females, unique among North American woodpeckers, are dark brown and white.
With their slender bodies and long, thin bills, these unique sandpipers are often seen swimming and spinning in circles on ponds in Western and Central North America.
A stocky shorebird characterized by a single neckband, thick bill, and gray-brown upper parts found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Known for its distinctive display flights, this medium-sized, plump shorebird has a long, straight bill, short legs, and cryptic brown and buff plumage.
A small songbird of North America, it’s bright yellow with an olive upper part and a black cap on the males.
Found in southwestern North America, this bird is predominantly blue and gray with little variation between sexes and a notably straight edge to the neckline.
Typically found in the Florida Keys and at the southern tip of Texas, this medium-sized dove has uniformly light gray-brown plumage and a distinctive white trailing edge on its wings.