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Why some of PA’s birds are getting new names · Spotlight PA

This article first appeared in PA Local, Spotlight PA’s weekly newsletter that takes a fresh, positive look at Pennsylvania’s great people, beautiful places and delicious food. Click here to register for free.

HARRISBURG — Several birds that live and fly around Pennsylvania may soon have new names.

of American Ornithological Society The United States announced on November 1 that it would change the name of a North American bird to distinguish it from its namesake, which has a troubled past. Some birds have racist names, such as the Townsend’s warbler and the solitaire.

Peter Senger, an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, told PA Local the project could impact more than a dozen birds that breed, migrate or visit Pennsylvania.

The American Ornithological Society plans to evaluate about 80 names next year. AOS said it would review all birds with human names, rather than making decisions on a case-by-case basis. A committee will be held to solicit input from the public and experts from various scientific fields.

AOS maintains some form of list of common English bird names. Since 1886 It is a scientific organization responsible for registering and standardizing English bird names throughout the Americas.

The group’s president, Colleen Handel, said she hopes the name change effort will encourage more people to participate in birdwatching and put the spotlight on the animals, rather than the people watching them.

“We need a more comprehensive and engaging scientific process that focuses on the unique characteristics and beauty of birds themselves. Anyone who loves and cares about birds should be free to enjoy them and enjoy them. We should be able to study them, and birds need our help now more than ever,” Handel said in a statement.

Judith Skarle, CEO and executive director of the association, said the project could help reverse long-standing prejudices among birdwatchers.

“The exclusionary naming conventions developed in the 1800s, clouded by racism and misogyny, are not serving us today. We need to transform this process and focus on the birds where they truly belong. It’s time to redirect,” Skaar said.

Jim Bonner, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Audubon Society, told PA Local that finalizing the name could take years.He described the appearance and sound of birds. May influence new nickname.

“They might take it in bulk. Do it 20 times at a time,” Bonner said. “This process may take a significant amount of time to complete.”

Bonner called for making birding more inclusive in the 2020 racial justice movement, when birdwatchers were among Americans across the country protesting police brutality and reckoning with systemic racism. We tracked efforts to address this issue. especially, That year, a racist incident occurred in Central Park. The incident in which a white woman called the police on a black birdwatcher was a major turning point.

Audubon’s Shearwater, a bird named after a naturalist and slave owner John James Audubon, is one of the birds on the list of the Ornithological Society. The Audubon Society was named after the same person; decided to keep the titlethe choices that led to his resignation, Local branch falls into fraud.

Susan Bell, president of the National Audubon Society’s board of directors, explained that the organization’s name “has come to represent more than just one person’s work.”

Reactions to the American Ornithological Society’s plan to change the names of America’s birds all at once have been mixed.

Saenger, president of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, initially opposed the move.

“I was like, ‘Who digs into history?’ I didn’t know the background of a lot of these people,” he said. “I was naive about the fact that these people had done something wrong.”

After reflection, Senger said he now supports renaming all birds, rather than judging them individually. Not only is it easier logistically, but in his own experience, birders are adaptable.

“When I started thinking about the names that have changed over the decades since I started birding, we’ve gotten used to it,” he added.

Daniel Clem Jr., president of the International Wilson Ornithological Society, said he was disappointed that so many name changes would affect historical figures who were blank slates.

But Klemm, who also teaches at Muhlenberg College, said he supports AOS’ decision.

“Eliminating the aggressive personalities associated with birds and replacing them with more descriptive names is a good thing so we can communicate better,” he said.

For people like Brian Wargo, president of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society, the name change has little impact on the process.

“We don’t expect much of a difference. They’ve done things like renaming birds in the past,” Wargo said.

He recalled when the goshawk was reclassified into two birds: the American goshawk and the northern goshawk.

“This was due to vocalization patterns and genetic differences. They had to split the species. Sometimes they would put them back together,” he said.

Wargo added: “It’s interesting how we deal with history, but it’s a complex issue. It’s good for us to judge those things.”

saenger Who wrote the field guide to birds?said he expects the renaming process to be interesting.

“Birds have become an incredible fascination for people. especially during a pandemic. “It will be interesting to see how people new to this hobby react to this,” he said.

The list below, provided by Saenger, identifies some of the birds that breed, migrate, or visit Pennsylvania that may be affected by the name change effort.

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https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/11/pennsylvania-birds-renamed-audobon-society-racism-slavery-inclusion/ Why some of PA’s birds are getting new names · Spotlight PA

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