I’ve noticed that recently, a lot of bird subspecies have been getting common names. My problem is, about half of these “common names” I have never heard outside of iNaturalist, nor does the name apply to the taxon. Here’s a few examples.
This morning, I added two observations of a Steller’s Jay from Tuesday. I was lucky enough to find an Interior Steller’s (Cyanocitta stelleri [diademata Group]) and a Coastal Steller’s (C. s. [stelleri Group]) side by side and showing the features that distinguish the two groups. I identified to annectens and frontalis due to range and the fact the species is non-migratory. When I submitted the two observations, they had no common names but when I came back on only a couple hours later, annectens is now the Black-fronted Steller’s Jay and frontalis the Blue-fronted Steller’s Jay. The reason why I have a problem with this is because the common name is more appropriate for the subspecies Group as a whole instead of just one. Secondly, if you are going to call annectens anything, you call it the White-fronted Steller’s Jay. Thirdly, common names are normally only applied to subspecies when there is several very distinct features between others, namely Northern Flicker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow.
This is not the only time either I’ve seen this happened. We now have on iNaturalist the Columbian Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus fortuitus) which also didn’t have a common name a couple months back. Whoever is adding these names, I want to know what their source is because I’ve known fortuitus to be a common nameless subspecies of the Interior Western Group nominate subspecies septentrionalis. And looking back of the Black-capped Chickadee taxon page, all the subspecies now have a name (septentrionalis now being called the Long-tailed Black-capped Chickadee) even though I’ve never heard any of these names being used. And isn’t the first guideline to making a common name is, “Try to add names that have been used elsewhere. Please don’t invent new names.”
Few more species with misleading or normally nameless subspecies; Ruffed Grouse, Great Horned Owl, Horned Lark and many other two/three subspecies species that named geographically.
Possible solutions: Feature request to make common name additions to birds restricted to curators. Educate users more and stress the reason for the first guideline of adding a common name. Open to possibilities.