Fall Connection #12 – Autumn Menagerie – Birds

Words are fascinating.

Today, take a minute to explore some of the interesting terms used for groups of birds. I’ve found a term for nearly every letter of the alphabet. I’m betting you’ve never heard some of these before! 
 
Bevy of Quail – first used in 1486, has its roots in bevee – a group of drinking companions (Anglo-French)

Chime of Wrens – gregarious birds with a ringing, cascading song

Dissimulation – a flock of small birds

Exaltation of Larks – these birds amuse themselves in flight and in complex vocalizations

Fall of Woodcock – active around dawn, these birds “appear” like an overnight snow fall.

Gaggle of Geese –  first used in 1452, refers to the addled babbling of a group of geese

Herd of Curlews – flocks of these birds can contain thousands of individuals. First used in 1486.

Knob of Waterfowl  – less than thirty birds which are either flying or sitting

Loomery of Guillemots – this family of birds includes auks and penguins, but can fly rapidly and dive deep in sea water.

Murmuration of Starlings – an old fifteenth century term for groups of these chattering birds,which were brought to North America by a Shakespeare fan.

Nye of Pheasants – from the Old English word for ‘brood’

Parliament of Owls  – can also refer to a group of crows

Raft of Ducks – a group of ducks sitting in the water

Siege of Heron -so named because a heron waits for its prey to betray itself with ‘all the patience of an army starving its enemy out of a stronghold.’

Trip of Dotterel (plovers) – these birds express no fear when a human approaches their nest. Not sure why we call them a ‘trip’ –

Unkindness of Ravens – in centuries past, ravens were believed to eject their chicks from the nest, leaving them to fend for themselves until their black feathers grew in.

Volery – a group of birds involving more than one family, genus or species of bird

Wisp of Snipe – this group reference recalls the zigzag flight of this scampering shorebird

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