The hatching of the baby eagles at the National Arboretum was a joyous occasion: for the eagle parents, for the District Department of Energy & Environment and National Arboretum, and for fans of baby bird web cams everywhere. But this joy will be very forever diminished if the pair is stuck with any of the truly abysmal names selected out of the 3,600 submitted via hashtag (#namethenestlings). The five finalist pairs the public has to pick from are terrible. Let’s break it down.
Freedom and Liberty
Are we naming baby eagles or are we naming second-tier sports teams? Come on. We can do better than this. I get the pro-USA sentiment here and that’s laudable, but these words are also synonyms. I don’t want the baby eagles to lose their individual identities.
Stars and Stripes
Easy to say. Easy to remember. Trite as fuck. And why not Star and Stripe? They’re just one bird each! This just doesn’t work on multiple levels.
Anacostia and Potomac
At least these names are local and they’re the best of the finalists, but they’re very cumbersome. It’s hard to say to your colleague in a moment of squee—“OMG, look at what Anacostia and Potomac just did!”—and get the words out of your mouth. You could shorten them to Ana and Mac and that’s definitely an improvement. But still, not great.
Honor and Glory
Gross. This is just gross. These are the kinds of names I would expect for a family pet on a TLC reality show about one of those 20-kid homeschooling families. I don’t object to honor and glory in general (great virtues, though perhaps a little self-sacrifice-y sounding for baby birds), but they’re terrible names.
Cherry and Blossom
Were you even trying? This is the laziest name selection of the bunch. This name was pulled off an events calendar. And individually, it’s rough: Blossom makes for a fine nostalgic TV reference, but Cherry? Nope.
We can do better, and so here is what I propose: Carver and Langston. These names have character. They’re easy to say and remember. They sound good individually and as a pair. And by naming the eagles after the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the site of the eagles’ birth, we’re imbuing them with a sense of place and an acknowledgement that these are native Washingtonian eagles. Sure, the bald eagle is the national bird and it’s easy to want to project on them the patriotic virtues the entire nation wants to ascribe to itself (freedom! liberty! honor! glory!), but that robs them of a local identity that we (and the eagles themselves) should be proud of. Plus, naming a bird of prey Carver is a hilarious pun.
Maybe this is what we get for asking the public. After all, their track record hasn’t been very good in the last week.
So, powers that be, I beg you to reconsider. You can do better.
Screenshot via Eagles.org; illustration by Sarah Anne Hughes