Here's a quote from William Shakespeare, taken from his recently discovered play about birding (found in a dusty attic in Stratford, Connecticut):
What's in a name?
That which we call a rose-breasted grosbeak.
By any other word would sing as sweet. [sic]
As for me, I have an Everyday Joe name: Bill Thompson. It's such a generic name that lots of people end up calling me Bob or Tom or Bill Thomas or Bob Thomas or Tom Billson--well, maybe not that last one.
When I lived in New York City there were 88 William H. Thompsons in the phonebook for Manhattan. It was easy to tell would-be apartment-crashing visitors "Hey, I'm in the phone book!"
Even down the road from me in rural-most SE Ohio there is another William Thompson. That's why I use the suffix III on my name. And am BT3 for short.
If you don't like your existing name, there are ways to discover other names that exist for you that you may not have known about. This may be the true reason why the Internet was invented. You can figure out your Soap Opera Name, your Adult Film Star Name, and other names you'll hope never to hear used in public here.
I loved getting my Pirate Name (Mad William Flint) from this web site.
And now we come to bird names, and especially birds with bad names. Where to start?
Above is an image I took of a red-bellied woodpecker showing some of the red belly for which the species is named. But the era of shotgun ornithology (where birds were shot, examined dead in the hand, then named for some physical attribute or a fellow ornithologist or the tree they were in or where they were shot) also has given us ring-necked duck. Have you ever seen the ring on the neck of a ring-necked duck? Me either!
Some other peevish bird names:
Purple finches are raspberry in color not purple.
Goatsuckers do not suck the milk or blood from goats.
Palm warblers aren't usually found in palm trees
Magnolia warblers are not normally found in magnolias (but Alexander Wilson shot some in a magnolia tree back in 1810 or so).
Prairie warblers avoid the prairies.
Connecticut warblers are fairly hard to see in Connecticut.
Ditto Cape May warblers in Cape May.
Magnificent hummingbirds are nice, but....
Sapsuckers drink sap rather than sucking it.
Have you ever seen the Nuttall's on a Nuttall's woodpecker?
Hey, I'm just getting warmed up here...
Got your own suggestions for the worst bird name? Give me a shout!