Bird Names: Avian options beyond Robin and Raven
I am absolutely chirping with delight to be here today on Nameberry! I’m almost equally delighted to watch an ever growing trend in the world of baby names. Nameberry wrote on the trend in 2008, and since then there have been some noteworthy babes named from within this alluring category of nature-inspired names. Yes, bird names are definitely ones I expect to see much more of.
We may have little Agnes Lark Bettany to thank for making bird names seem more approachable, but Agnes Lark isn’t the only lovely chirper in our midst. Popular blogger Miss James, of Bleubird Vintage has a Gemma Bird. And who could forget Sparrow James Midnight–is his name sounding a little less out there to your ears yet? The rockn’ Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes really freshens this one up for a little boy, and I love the aptness of his sweet name. If you envision a sensitive, bearded son, with the voice of a songbird, this might be a great choice for your baby boy!
Lady Bird Johnson was the first to bring my focus to bird names. While this was her nickname only (she was born Claudia), I think it puts even more interesting choices for middle names on the table. Bluebird, Bluejay, Bellbird, Meadowlark, Songbird, Sunbird and Snowfinch are options with a definite kinship to Mrs. Johnson‘s. These may also appeal to those with an affinity for the smoosh; I think they hit a nice sweet spot in-between the more popular -belle smooshes and the Puritan sounding Hopestill and Lovejoy.
As a young girl, I had a neighbor named Birdie. Though I never asked her, I always wondered if Birdie was a nickname for Bertha. If you aren’t keen on Bertha, there are plenty of other lovely names that yield the adorable nickname Birdie: Albertine, Bernadette, Berenice, Bertilde, Berdine, Bergit, Bridget and even Beatrice can reasonably take you there.
I also like the sound of Nest as a nickname, and there are some truly beautiful names that lead right to it: Ernest, Nestor , Agnes, Nesta, and Ernestine. While my thoughts are on the things-associated-with-birds category, I can also imagine some parents opting for the middle name Feather with something traditional and more buttoned-up for a first name. With word names growing ever more popular, we might even expect to see Plume pop up, perhaps from those who are writers as well as bird lovers. Nom de plume would certainly take on a more literal meaning!
Some may love the idea of honoring birds, but want to make it a little less obvious to the English- speaking ear. Bird names from other languages might be an enticing option for this flock. Nido, the Spanish word for ‘nest’, is right on trend with its -o ending, and Zumaya (barn owl) feels like it’s long been a name. Sulka, the Finnish word for ‘feather’, is one that appeals to me. From Japan we have: Tori (bird), Taka (hawk), Hiyodori (brown eared bulbul), Uzur a (japanese quail) and Suzume (sparrow). I like the idea of calling a little Suzume ‘Zuzu‘, ‘Zumi’, or ‘Sue‘ (a nickname I predict will make a comeback in the middle spot with almost as much frequency as Joy.) Harval (Czech), Alala (Hawaiian), and Corvo (Itallian) may be options for you if love the Rook, but not the sound of the word ‘crow’.
For those looking for more established names, there are those that link to birds in their meanings or accompanying stories. Nydia means ‘nest’, and with Lydia growing ever more attractive, this feels an obvious choice. Paloma, Jemima, Yonina, Columba and Culver all link to ‘dove’. More of this sort to look out for: Eder, Efron, Fowler, Derora, Zippora, and Philomela (the princess turned nightingale).
Still, for as many ways as there are for looking for roundabout routes to bird names, I have a feeling there will be many more people seeking something much more direct in the form of actual names of birds, such as:
And for more daring middle name options, these could work on either gender:
From the swift, bold and strong to the soft and dainty, birds host a vast range of attributes with which to entice us when considering names for our children.
So, what are your favorite bird names? Would you use them up front, leave them for the middle, or save them for nicknames? What sort of names would you suggest pairing with these winged names? I find the idea of something like Dorothy Meadowlark or Oriole George quite pretty. I can’t wait to hear what you all come up with!
Kristen Gregg is a mother of two, freelance writer, name consultant and aspiring designer, living in the northeastern U.S. with her family. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Memphis, where she met her husband and they began their globe-trotting pack of four. She can be found pondering the intersection of names and design on her blog, marginamia and she would love to hear from you there.