Mark Figley: Renaming plan a bird-brained effort

Bird-watchers beware! Just when you thought it was safe to engage in this harmless, age-old hobby, think again.

The American Ornithological Society recently announced that it has decided to rename more than 70 species of birds named after people. Why? Not because of racist birds, mind you, but to correct “historic bias” no less. The AOS, having nothing better to do, will commence with this operation in 2024.

According to AOS president Colleen Handel, “some English birds’ names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today.” Thus, America needs a “more inclusive and scientific process that focuses on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves.” And in a world gone mad, birds need our help now more than ever!

It all started in 2020 when the organization renamed McCown’s Larkspur the Thick-billed Larkspur. This small prairie bird just happened to be named after Confederate general John P. McCown, an amateur bird enthusiast, and assorted bird lovers just couldn’t stand it.

For its part, Audubon reported that Bird Names For Birds social justice activists were upset that some common bird names given in honor of a person perpetuated colonialism and racism. Perhaps a little bird told them, but who could have known?

The AOS made clear that the renaming effort was meant to give a voice to those who had been largely ignored or excluded in the past from determining appropriate names relating to birds. This would be an evolving process as well, and one that won’t cease until every last bird species named for a person (at least 260) is renamed appropriately. Thank God for that!

Of course, as this moral clean-up process unfolds, many other offensive bird names could also be eliminated, such as the Eskimo curlew, the Inca dove and the flesh-footed shearwater. Names like the bald eagle could disappear too; however, its scientific name of Haliaeetus leucocephalus would remain. And it has such a nice ring to it.

Likewise, Scott’s oriole, named after well-know army general Winfield Scott, will be renamed due to his efforts in removing the Cherokee Indians from their native lands. Oh, but there once was a time when scientists just practiced science.

This entire bird-brained effort is part of a broader effort to diversify bird-watching by making it more inclusive for those of all races and backgrounds. But many of the bird names being changed are happening simply because they sound too caucasian or Anglo European.

For example, biologist Erica Nol stumbled across a Wilson’s snipe, named after 19th century naturalist Alexander Wilson, who also inspired Wilson’s warbler. The two birds are among those that must be renamed, even if that means dissing the father of modern North American ornithology in the process.

It’s likely that most people had not even heard of the American Ornithological Society until now, but the impaired minds of those who came up with this utter absurdity have certainly done their best to change that.

Unfortunately, the AOS’s ill-conceived attempt to promote the ultimate in wokeness is nothing more than fowl play.

Mark Figley is a political activist and guest columnist from Elida. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.