Sweden Bird Names: Certain Species With Racist Names Get Changed

A number of Sweden’s bird names are getting flack for being racist. This is causing certain species of birds to be re-named by Sweden’s Ornithological Society despite the fact the they’ve been around for centuries. Revisions are said to warranted because some specie names reflect racist terms, such as Negro Bird, Gypsy Bird, Caffer Bird, and Hottentrot Bird.

The Sweden Ornithological Society released a global list of 10,709 Swedish bird names on Bird Life two weeks ago and announced name changes for ones deemed offensive or inappropriate.

“When working on the list, it became obvious that some older names no longer were appropriate,” Anders Wirdheim, Communications Officer at the Swedish Ornithological Society tells The Washington Post.

The Negro Bird will now be called the Black Bird, for example.

Wirdheim is shocked at the severity of criticism the organization has received of Sweden’s bird names. When the publication was released, he didn’t expect the gravity of racist allegations to be as serious as they were.

“Out of thousands of names, there were only ten which could be understood as condescending or even racist. We had expected a few responses, but certainly not the flood of comments that followed the publication,” Wirdheim said.

“Here in Sweden, an overwhelming majority is for the changes we have implemented. However, the news has reached far beyond our borders and most outraged reactions have come from abroad.”

The Independent reveals a few of the bird names changed on the species global list. It reveals what’s known as the Caffer Bird — or White-Rumped Swift — in U.S. is now called Vitgumpseglare (seen in photo above). Researchers felt it bordered on a racist term used by white South Africans when describing black South Africans.

The Zigenarfagel, which thrives in the Amazon and Orinco river basins, will now be called Hoatzin. This is already a word for a tropical pheasant species that lives in forests and swamps. The first name of this bird translated to Gypsy Bird.

Hottentot has is now the Dabbling Duck. Hottentrot is “thought to mimic the sound of the language – which includes clicks – of the South African indigenous group Khoikhoi.”

Wirdheim also spoke with The Local se and shares how the Sweden bird name changes began.

“We kept getting more and more questions from translators of Swedish TV programs and books wanting to know what exactly different bird names were or meant, so we decided to compile a list and while we were doing that we decided to change the names of any birds that could have stirred up a debate.”

[Photo Credit: Astroscape.com]