A waterfowl by any other name

by Jeff Helsdon | January 16, 2024
Ross’s goose

An effort led by the American Ornithological Society (AOS) to rename any bird species named after a person will also affect three species of waterfowl. 

The Ross’s goose, which is common in the central and western flyways, and breeds in Ontario along Hudson’s Bay, is one. It was named for Bernard Rogan Ross, a fur trader and naturalist who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the mid-1800s. 

The Barrow’s goldeneye, found mainly along the west coast of North America and with small numbers in the eastern Arctic, will also get a new handle. This bird shouldn’t be confused with the more widespread common goldeneye. The Steller’s eider, which is found in the western Arctic through to Russia, is the third waterfowl species to be renamed. 

The renaming process will start in 2024 with AOS forming a committee to oversee the process for the first group of birds to be renamed. The scientific names will not change. Public input will be considered during the process. 

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