Some 150 birds named for people tied to slavery and white supremacy could eventually get new monikers as part of an ongoing reckoning with racism within the world of birding. The Verge: That includes Jameson’s firefinch, named for a British naturalist who bought a young girl while in Africa “as a joke” and then drew pictures of her being brutally killed. In a new story this week, Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears breaks down the horrific history of ornithology that has managed to be scrubbed clean in many history books.
Fears also writes about the names these birds already had, given to them by Indigenous peoples who understood the animals long before white settlers supposedly “discovered” the creatures. There’s a push now to return to some of those names or use new ones in local languages, which continue to be mocked by a cadre of birding elite that is still largely white. Just last year the American Ornithological Society apologized for “inappropriate comments” its members made nearly 10 years ago about a proposal to rename the Maui parrotbill to the Hawaiian name Kiwikiu.