Hannah Thomasy for Undark outlines the debate over changing the names of American bird species named, for example, for figures known for fighting for the Confederacy or massacring Native Americans.
McLaughlin and some other researchers suggest that birds shouldn’t be named after people at all. “The landscape of birding is changing,” says Ward. “Why not change these bird names as well? I say throw them all out the window and rename all the birds named after old dead White ornithologists.”
Instead, Ward points out that many birds are named after their behaviors, their preferred habitat, or physical features, and these characteristics could be used to rename birds like the longspur as well. “[McCown’s longspur] is common in the Great Plains, so we could call this bird the prairie longspur,” says Ward. “If you look at the bird, it also has a beautiful red-colored, chestnut-colored patch on its wings. Birders have so many different names for red. So, we could call this bird the rufous-winged longspur or the chestnut-winged longspur.”