Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why is a Group of Crows Called a Murder? OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collective Nouns

Hello birdfans,

You may have noticed that in the last few entries I've started including those colorful collective nouns that groups of birds are mysteriously possessed of. I never did this before because I just sort of figured that some guy made them up and thus they were not legitimate enough to include. I changed my mind because I got curious and went and looked up where they came from.
It turns out that the majority of these collective nouns originate from a late Middle Ages text called The Book of Saint Albans. Published in 1846 and written by an abbess at Saint Albans Monastery named Dame Julianna Berners, it was the first naturalistic text by a woman. Along with essays on hawking, hunting, and angling, Dm. Barners including evocative descriptors for groups of animals.

Given that she invented personalities for animals whole-cloth that nonetheless ring true, you could say that I feel some personal connection to this book. Since I've missed out on many interesting bird descriptors since I started the blog, I've decided to catch up now. Most of these birds have many options for what to call a group of them. I've chosen Dm. Barners' when possible, and my personal favorite when I couldn't find hers.
A Squabble of Gulls

A Bevy of Quails

A Cast of Hawks

A Herd of Cranes

A Fling of Sandpipers

A Sege of Herons (it seems it is up in the air whether this is meant to be a Sedge or a Siege)

A Merl of Blackbirds

A Party of Jays

A Gang of Turkeys

A Parliament of Owls

A Flight of Swallows
A Host of Sparrows
A Raft of Ducks

A Murder of Crows

A Loomery of Loons

A Kit of Pigeons
A Congregation of Egrets

A Gaggle of Geese

A Dule of Doves

An Ostentation of Peacocks

A Gulp of Cormorants

A Worm of Robins

A Descent of Woodpeckers

A Murmuration of Starlings

A Hover of Hummingbirds

A Hermitage of Thrushes

A Season of Tanagers

A Hobbling of Limpkins (Really? They don't have it bad enough already? Geeze..)
A Pod of Pellicans

A Ridicule of Mockingbirds

A Duet of Ospreys (I suppose they are never in a group larger than two.. Yeah, that makes sense)

A Charm of Finches

A Troop of Ostriches

This concludes today's very long and wordy update. While I'm writing at you endlessly, I should mention that the website has undergone something of a minor overhaul. To the right you'll find some helpful links and navigation, as well as some bonus content, in the form of Yr. Amateurnithologist's Life List. We are forever striving for improvement here at Bird Blog, and hope these additions make you very happy. In these trying times, it's important to take pictures of birds. Stay strong ya'll.

-The Amateurnithologist

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