American History reflected in proper names bestowed on many birds

Read the Ruth Bass’ article here.

Lewis’s Woodpecker, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon

Dozens of birds bear the names of those credited with identifying them, like the Bonaparte’s gull honoring Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew; the Cooper’s hawk, familiar to New Englanders, named for William Cooper, one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History; the Blackburnian warbler for pre-Revolution naturalist Anna Blackburn.

But, what’s ruffling feathers in the American Ornithological Society today is a growing number of their scientists protesting the old practice of giving people names to birds. They are focusing on some of the so honored who reflect colonialism and on the fact that Indigenous peoples had met birds named for Audubon and Wilson and Cooper before those men were born.