A Collection of Collective Nouns for Birds

The contributors of Birding-Aus, an Australian forum about birding, have sometimes debated the relative collective nouns for birds. I recently discovered a list that seems fairly comprehensive and its on Wikipedia.

We all know about:

  • a flock of geese
  • a murder of crows
  • a brood of hens
  • a clutch of chicks
  • a parliament of owls

I was rather surprised to read about:

  • a wake of vultures (I just hope it’s not MY wake!)
  • a pandemonium of parrots (the author of this one must have been thinking about either Galahs or Lorikeets)
  • a quarrel of sparrows (isn’t that apt!)
  • an exultation of skylarks (how poetic)

Finally, I will not accept this one, and even Wikipedia lists this as spurious.

  • A gulp of Swallows!


  • Birding-Aus – a forum for Australian birders

6 Responses to “A Collection of Collective Nouns for Birds”

  1. Snail says:

    Thanks for putting up those links. Do you know how frequently those collective noun discussions come up at work? Surprisingly often.

    My favourite is an unkindness of ravens. It’s such a bizarre noun (among a collection of the plain peculiar).

  2. Trevor says:

    I guess ravens can be rather unkind, mainly to the eggs or offspring of other species. Perhaps that is the origin of the saying. It would be intriguing to find out where some of these terms originated; in many cases I guess we will never know.

    Update: after a little Googling I came up with this:

    “unkindness of ravens refers to an old legend that ravens push their young out of the nest to survive as best they can.”

  3. Ruth van Herk says:

    Could we call a group of Kookaburras a Cackle of Kookaburras?

  4. Julie N Neil Lihou says:

    Honeyeaters could be Called a squabble

  5. Daemon Singer says:

    Sitting in my run down cottage in the outback watching crows by the murder, apostle birds by the family, and watched by an enormous mob of kangaroos, it was suggested that a comedy of kookaburras may work nicely.

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