How about Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeak--those are great descriptive names for the two birds, but in terms of interesting they seem rather plain. Gray Jay is one that really stings me--honestly something like Alpine Jay, or Tundra Jay is so much more fitting. But hey, the "color" gray is descriptive enough right? And it matches up to the Green, Brown, and Blue Jay--never mind the Scrub or Steller's Jay though, they were after all already blue.
Birds named after cardinal directions also leave me feeling uneasy. The Northern Flicker for instance is found far and wide east to west--not to mention across the entire south. What about the Northern Rough-winged Swallow--are we talking north of the Equator? Because the Southern Rough-winged Swallow and it's northern cousin meet in up Central America. Lest we forget the Eastern Towhee and the Western Grebe and the split across this great continent. Don't get me wrong I understand why some of these birds have the generalized descriptors used for their names--but it just seems like far too many have been done a disservice because of it.
Of course there is one bird above all others that bothers me--the Western Tanager. It's my favorite bird with a breathtaking pattern and color set. I can think of a couple name more apt--how about the Aspen Tanager (yes this species spends a great deal of time in Aspen as well as Conifers), or Tremulous Tanager (another take to Aspen, or Populus tremuloides its the scientific name).
I mean saying I saw 500 Tremulous Tanagers in a day sounds way more epic than saying I saw 500 Western Tanagers in a day. Just the name adds a bit of mystique and interest. I also wouldn't feign at names like Flammulated Tanager, Fire-faced Tanager, or the simple yet all encompassing Incredible Tanager. How many times have you heard a birder or non-birder alike say, "Wow that's Incredible!" upon seeing a Western Tanager?
So now that I've told you a couple bird names I would change, if you could change 1, 2, or a few bird names, what ones would you choose, and why? Comment below anonymously or using just your name, or a Google account, etc. I'm interested to see what others have to say!