Nature Names That Aren’t Plants

Part I.: Birds

This is part 1 of a 3-part series on nature names that aren’t plants. It seems like tree and flower names dominate the nature category, but there are lots of non-botanical nature names that I think deserve a little more recognition. In my research for this post, I noticed that Abby at Appellation Mountain had done an excellent (and very thorough) bird name post in 2015. Her post focused on girl’s names, so this one is primarily masculine and unisex names.

Robin- The OG bird name (and a form of Robert), Robin was fairly common for both boys and girls in the mid-20th  century. But it’s fallen out of favor- it doesn’t rank in the top 1000 for either gender, though it did manage to squeeze into #973 on the boy’s list in 2015.

Wren- This no-frills bird name is really catching on for girls. It rose over 500 places in 5 years, an astounding trajectory seemingly not fueled by any celebrity or pop culture reference. Wren is definitely one to watch.

Hawk- Because Hawks are birds of prey, they have a more macho image than most other bird names. It can be a nickname for Hawking or Hawthorne for those who prefer a more surname-y spin.

Talon- Like Hawk, Talon seems macho, even aggressive. As a noun, talon is the sharp claw of birds of prey or the remainder of a deck of cards after it’s dealt. As a name, it sounds like a lot of popular choices. Two syllable -n ending names dominate the boy’s popularity charts (think Ethan, Owen, Jackson, Aiden & company) and L is a trendy letter for both genders. That appealing sound has propelled Talon into the top 1000- it ranked #651 last year.

Phoenix- Phoenix has a lot going for it, like the very cool x at the end, the evergreen “nic” sound, and the unusual Ph- beginning. The imagery is undeniably poetic: a beautiful, immortal creature bursts into flame and rises from its own ashes.  It’s no wonder the name is rising; last year, it ranked #443 for girls #292 for boys.

Sparrow- Nicole Richie and Joel Madden brought this name into the realm of possibility when they bestowed it on their son. Sparrow James Midnight Madden joined sister Harlow Winter Kate in 2009. His name has an interesting image; Sparrows are small, gentle birds, but the sound is a somewhat harsh at the beginning with the usually masculine -o ending.

Pavo- Pavo is both a form of Paul and the scientific name for the genus that includes peacocks. It could be a creative, avian way to honor an ancestral Paul.

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