Birds of a feather flock together, but what is this flock called? Turns out, it depends on the species!
As our avian friends take to the skies, they often gather in social groups of birds that are not only visually captivating, but also come with unique names.
These special terms, known as collective nouns, bring a touch of poetry and whimsy to our language, enriching our descriptions of avian behavior and adding a dash of charm to birdwatching experiences.
From a “charm” of finches to a “murder” of crows, the collective nouns for birds not only convey the beauty of the natural world, but also evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity.
So, let’s spread our wings and delve into this enchanting lexicon, exploring the captivating collective nouns and names for groups of birds below.
List of Collective Nouns For Birds
|Bird Species||Collective Nouns|
|Ducks (on water)||Paddling|
|Ducks (in flight)||Skein|
|Geese (on ground or water)||Gaggle|
|Geese (in flight)||Skein|
Many of our favourite collective nouns for birds date back to the 15th century, and have managed to stay in our memory as they were recorded and published in Books of Courtesy handbooks designed to ‘educate nobility’. 1
Some of the group names of birds are straightforward in their meaning, named after obvious attributes or behaviour, while others are more perculiar or a product of the time.
A ‘murder of crows’ likely comes from medieval peasants fears of the jet black, and slightly ‘sinister-looking’ birds that were often seen in graveyards, while ‘an unkindness of ravens’ refers to their perceived poor parenting in the 19th century.
If you’re unsure of the true collective noun for a species, then a flock of birds is the most common!
Fact Sources & References
- Paula Lester (2020), “Collective nouns for birds: Why we call it a murder of crows, murmuration of starlings and a conspiracy of ravens“, Country Life.