The Birds and the B’s: Birdie and Bodhi

The Birds and the B’s: Birdie and Bodhi

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes names inspired by birds, androids and an African city, plus some unexpected family names.

Bird names and baby expectations

How much should a child’s name reflect their parents?

Our names always encode some information about our background and the tastes of our parents (or whoever named us). But there’s a difference between giving your baby a name you think is strong enough to set them up for life, and imposing your interests on them.

That’s what bird expert Nicholas Lund found when it came to naming his child. There are plenty of fantastic bird names out there, from Top 1000 choices Wren and Raven to ones you may not even realise are birds, like Sora and Ani. (Plus “use with extreme caution” options like Bobolink and Kittiwake. Although at least they could go by Bobby and Kitty.)

But for Nick, that would have felt like pointing his child down an ornithological path they might not want to follow. He and his wife used a bird-neutral name, Elliott, instead.

These feelings are echoed in an article by Tricia Springstubb (who was named after a Perry Como song): “Much as we fret over what to call our children, a name only means so much. We choose, freighting our choices with hopes and aspirations, but our children are the ones who decide who they’ll become.” Swistle also recently answered a question on this issue.

Rising names: Bodhi and Maeve

You know those baby names that celebrities seem to love more the average parent? Bodhi is one of them, and ex-wrestler Stacy Keibler has just continued the trend with her son’s name, the stylishly alliterative Bodhi Brooks.

But non-famous parents are fast catching up with the love for Bodhi. It sits just outside the Top 300 on the US charts, and on Nameberry it’s the 16th most viewed boy name so far this year.

Maeve is another name that’s much more popular on Nameberry (#11 in 2018 so far) than in real life (#360 in the US in 2017). The Huffington Post wonders, can Thandie Newton’s character in Westworld take the credit? Probably not: the show first aired in 2016, by which time Maeve had been climbing through the Top 1000 for almost 20 years. But it’s continued to rise since then, so the android association apparently isn’t doing it any harm.

Family traditions: Cairo and Robert

Cairo is another name that’s soared in the last few years. Both this spelling and the variant Kairo are in the Top 1000 for boys, probably as an extension of Kai, and also because place names are cool.

Actress Tia Mowry has claimed it for the girls too: her new daughter is Cairo Tiahna. One of the other interesting things about her name is that her initials continue a family tradition. Like her big brother, Cree Taylor, she has a C name for dad Cory, and a T name for her mother.

Going back a generation, Tia’s parents are Tim and Darlene, so their children are Tia Dashon, Tamera Darvette (the other half of Sister, Sister), Tahj Dayton and Tavior Dante. Do you know any other families – celeb or otherwise – with a pattern like this?

At the other end of the inventiveness scale, Olympian diver Tom Daley and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have welcomed a son, Robert Ray. Robert is Tom‘s middle name and his late father’s name.

Closer to home, Berries have been using some very original names from their family trees. Last month’s announcements included babies with the names Ayala, Blakley, Gold and Lyon inspired by family members.

Secret Scandi names: Raynor and Haskell

You may have come across workaday names that have an edgier Germanic or Scandinavian version – like Alice is related to Adalheidis and Oliver has a cousin in Olaf.

Two showbiz couples this week have used more unusual names with Norse connections.

Neve Campbell and JJ Feild announced that they’ve adopted a son named Raynor. They’ve managed to use a name that’s rare yet has a trendy sound. Raiden, Raymond and Ray itself are all up in the charts, but Raynor was only given to 23 boys in the States last year.

It’s just a little more rare than Caspian was back in 2012, when the couple used it for their first son. Since then it’s skyrocketed. Is there any chance Raynor will do the same?

And if Raynor isn’t viking enough for you? There’s always its Scandi brother, Ragnar.

The Norse name Asketill would be very challenging to wear. But soften it down and you get Haskell, the name of Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts’ new son. It seems to be a family surname on Tracy‘s side. Never super-popular, it peaked around 1920 and was only given to 6 boys last year – could it be time for a revival?  Haskell can also derive from the name Ezekiel.

You know you’re a name nerd when…

…you don’t bat an eyelid at names that other people consider “weird”. Like this family of boys named Augustine (August for short), Blaise and Simon (nicknamed Sunny).

A little off the beaten track? Yes: all are in the US Top 1000 but below the Top 200. Shouting out Catholic? Yes. Unintentional hot weather theme? Yes. But weird? Probably not, if you’ve spent a while in the baby name world.

Now if you want truly unusual names, try these ones for starters.

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at