what group of birds is called a parliament

We celebrate our favourite collective nouns for birds, from the weird and the wonderful to the most curious.

Variously idiosyncratic, intriguing and often unerringly apt in their descriptions of gatherings of birds, animals and people a damning of jurors, an incredulity of cuckolds — most of the collective nouns we use date back to the mid 15th century.

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what group of birds is called a parliament

  • A wisp of snipe
  • A kettle of swallows
  • An invisibleness of ptarmigans
  • A committee of terns
  • A descent of woodpeckers
  • A pitying of turtledoves
  • A banditry of titmice
  • A circlage of house martins
  • A scold of jays
  • A charm of goldfinches
  • A fall of woodcock
  • A deceit of lapwings

Okay, fine. Perhaps an examination of the terms’ etymologies is necessary. These ridiculous names have to have originated somewhere, after all.

Terms of venery are, and always have been, whimsy. They’re a lark (and a whole list of such terms is, therefore, an exaltation of larks), applied at one time to groups of commonly-hunted animals but then extended for fun to groups of people, and to creatures, like the wombat, who are only found in wisdoms when they’re packed into a zoo.

As familiar as they are, these little nicknames for groups of animals—terms of veneration, if you want to get fancy—are supposedly delightful quirks of the English language. Well, that last one is mine, but how would you know?

I’m annoyed because, despite being a lifelong birdwatcher, I’ve never used terms like “parliament” or “murder” to describe owls or crows, or anything similar. Or heard anyone else use them. A group of birds—any birds— is a “flock. ” A group of cows is a “herd. Other than that, I don’t think there are enough other animal groups to warrant additional words.

I needed to ask those closest to the source. I needed to talk to some scientists.

How birds got their strange collective nouns

Unlike proverbs, rhymes, or homilies, many of these words have survived because they were recorded and published in Books of Courtesy handbooks intended to educate the nobility, as author Chloe Rhodes explains in An Unkindness of Ravens: A Book of Collective Nouns. “They were established and maintained to distinguish the aristocracy from the less refined masses,” the author states.

Most collective bird nouns do not always have as simple an origin as they might seem.

Some are named after odd behaviors, like “a descent of woodpeckers,” which may refer to their propensity to fall from great heights on ants, or attributes, like “a bellowing of bullfinches,” which may refer to the birds’ unusually thick necks or “a spring of teal,” which may refer to a personality trait that we think they have.

For example, the abundance of ominous-sounding nouns for crows, like murder, mob, and horde, most likely originates from medieval peasants’ fears that the eerie-looking corvids were either witches in disguise or had been sent by the Devil.

In a similar vein, the notion that ravens are “an unkindness of ravens” may have originated from the false impression that these birds were not the most nurturing parents, occasionally driving their young out of their nests to fend for themselves before they were ready.

Regarding a starling murmuration, this is simply an ongoing background murmur, similar to what happens when 10,000 pairs of wings beat simultaneously.


What birds make up a parliament?

The “parliament” of owls consists of two pairs of siblings, and three single owls. Most of these birds were believed to be orphaned and will be at the Center until they are old enough to be released.

What group is called a parliament?

A group of owls is called a parliament. This is because the ancient Greeks considered the owls to be very wise birds.

What is a group of magpies called?

What Is A Group of Magpies Called? There are many collective nouns for magpies, but perhaps the most common names for a group of magpies are a conventicle, gulp, mischief, tidings or tribe of magpies[i].

What is a group of ravens called?

The collective noun for a group of ravens is an “unkindness”. In practice, most people use the more generic “flock”.