Towards redressing inaccurate, offensive and inappropriate common bird names

Robert J. Driver, Alexander L. Bond

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    English common names are widely used in ornithological research, birding, media and by the general public and, unlike other taxa, often receive considerably greater use than scientific names. Across the world, many of these names were coined from 18th and 19th century European perspectives and are symbolic of a time when this was the only worldview considered in science. Here, we highlight formal efforts by ornithological societies around the world to change common names of birds to better reflect the diverse perspectives of scientists in the 21st century. We focus on particular case studies from regions with a history of colonialism, including South Africa and North America, as well as the successful implementation of Indigenous bird names in New Zealand. In addition to detailing independent and repeated efforts by different ornithological communities to address culturally inappropriate English common names, we discuss dissention and debate in North America regarding these changes. The continued use of problematic common names must change if we wish to create a more diverse and inclusive discipline.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1492-1499
    Number of pages8
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


    • diversity
    • English names
    • inclusion
    • nomenclature
    • taxonomy


    Dive into the research topics of 'Towards redressing inaccurate, offensive and inappropriate common bird names'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this