An Apology from AOS

For the past several years, AOS has been reckoning with and rectifying problematic aspects of our policies and procedures to become a more inclusive and culturally sensitive Society. We thank all individuals who have brought their concerns with these issues to our attention. It is such collective efforts that allow us to address wrongs.

In 2011, the North American Classification Committee (NACC) considered a proposal (2011-A-13) to change the English name of the Maui Parrotbill to a newly suggested Hawaiian name Kiwikiu. Embedded within the proposal’s comments were statements made by individual members of the NACC that would never have been allowed to be part of the Committee’s discourse today and that would violate the Society’s Code of Conduct, codified in 2015. Such comments now would be referred to the AOS Ethics Committee.

AOS and NACC strongly and unequivocally condemn the inappropriate comments made on that 2011 proposal and sincerely apologize for the offensive cultural insensitivity that was expressed in them. We deeply regret these comments and recognize the harm they have caused to all, and particularly to the peoples of Hawai‘i. 

Presently, we have a transparent and public proposal process, and we have redacted offensive comments from this 2011 proposal because they have no place in our current discourse and leaving them would cause ongoing harm. We have accordingly replaced those offending statements with an explanatory note. For the sake of transparency, the original comments will remain available by request, as now described on the website.

Our new proposal processes have revealed to us this aspect of a troubling past, one that we’re reckoning with. The Society and the NACC have greatly transformed since 2011, and we are actively changing how we handle name change proposals and other issues concerning social justice.

Mike Webster, President
Colleen Handel, President-Elect
American Ornithological Society



  1. Thanks. Hawaiian names for Hawiian birdshashelp biologistsformany many years as genetics have made taxonomic changes. Hawaiian names srerightlydo the official non- scientific names.

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