Kiwikiu, a now "racist" bird, perched in the Waikamoi Forest Preserve. Via Wikimedia Commons

A Washington Post report now claims that over 150 bird names are “racist” and tied to slavery, white supremacy, or some other supposed racially insensitive topic.

The Verge reports:

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. 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.

According to the report, “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.” 

Still, navigating the birding world while Black is fraught, Fears writes. [Corina] Newsome, an ornithologist and community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon, tells Fears about the stereotypes she faces in the field. And she’s candid about what it feels like to work under the name “Audubon.”

But if a new, more diverse generation of birders is successful in their push to rename both birds and institutions, a lot of titles could eventually change — including several birds named after John James Audubon. Check out Fears’ full story: it shows just how much is in a name.

So, birds are now “racist” along with a growing list that is getting hard to keep up with these days. 

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