On November 1, 2023, the AOS Council announced three commitments concerning eponymous English bird names:
- The AOS commits to changing all English-language names of birds within its geographic jurisdiction that are named directly after people (eponyms), along with other names deemed offensive and exclusionary, focusing first on those species that occur primarily within the U.S. or Canada.
- The AOS commits to establishing a new committee to oversee the assignment of all English common names for species within the AOS’s jurisdiction; this committee will broaden participation by including a diverse representation of individuals with expertise in the social sciences, communications, ornithology, and taxonomy.
- The AOS commits to actively involving the public in the process of selecting new English bird names.
Read the full AOS Council statement announcing these commitments and Council’s rationale.
Council’s commitments came in response to the final report and recommendations submitted by the AOS Ad Hoc English Bird Names Committee. All AOS members and other interested parties are encouraged to read the committee’s final report.
AOS President Colleen Handel, Ph.D., said: “There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today. We need a much more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses attention on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves. Everyone who loves and cares about birds should be able to enjoy and study them freely—and birds need our help now more than ever.”
AOS Executive Director and CEO Judith Scarl, Ph.D., said: “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. Exclusionary naming conventions developed in the 1800s, clouded by racism and misogyny, don’t work for us today, and the time has come for us to transform this process and redirect the focus to the birds, where it belongs. I am proud to be part of this new vision and am excited to work in partnership with a broad array of experts and bird lovers in creating an inclusive naming structure.”
This page and others on our website will be updated with additional information over time. Our FAQ page is intended to help AOS members and other interested parties understand and communicate about these changes.