Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Ever wonder what a group of turkeys is called, or maybe a flock of gulls? Most of us have heard the term a gaggle of geese but what about a group of cardinals? Here’s a fun listing of names for various groups of birds. Many make perfect sense, but some are real head scratchers.

Birds form clusters of organized groups, called flight flocks, for a reason. Most experts believe flocks increase the odds of survival and safety. Flocking can increase the possibility of finding food and protecting each other from trouble and predators. Flocks of birds that fly in “V” formations may be doing so to conserve energy. Birds drafting off of each other’s flapping wings can make the journey easier and less exhausting.

Certain birds, such as starlings, for example, form acrobatic flocks that can turn on a dime to create shapes and undulating feats in the air. This flock behavior is meant to quickly deter their predator, the fast and furious falcon. Other birds, such as dunlins, may synchronize a subtle tilt to their bodies while in a flight flock as a way to camouflage their plumage to confuse predators.

Watch this amazing murmuration of starlings in the United Kingdom!

A college of Cardinals

Bobolinks: chain

Budgerigars: chatter

Buzzards: wake

Cardinals: college, conclave, radiance, Vatican

Catbirds: mewing

Chickadees: banditry

Chickens: peep

Cormorants: flight, gulp, sunning, swim

Coots: cover

Cowbirds: corral, herd

Cranes: herd, dance

Creepers: spiral

Crossbills: crookedness, warp

A murder of crows

Crows: murder, congress, horde, muster, cauldron

Doves: bevy, cote, flight, dule

Ducks: raft, team, paddling, badling

Eagles: convocation, congregation, aerie

Emus: mob

Finches: charm, tremblin

Flamingos: flamboyance, stand

Frigatebirds: fleet, flotilla

A gaggle of geese

Geese: skein, wedge, gaggle, plump

Godwits: omniscience, prayer, pantheon

Goldfinches: charm, treasury, vein, rush, trembling

Grosbeaks: gross

Gulls: colony, squabble, flotilla, scavenging, gullery

Herons: siege, sedge, scattering

Hummingbirds: charm, glittering, shimmer, tune, bouquet, hover

A band of jays

Jays: band, party, scold, cast

Kingbirds: coronation, court, tyranny

Kingfishers: concentration, relm, clique, rattle

Knots: cluster

Lapwings: deceit

Larks: bevy, exaltation, ascension, happiness

Loons: asylum, cry, water dance

Magpies: tiding

Mallards: sord, flush

Nightingales: watch

Owls: parliament, wisdom, study, bazaar, glaring

Painted Buntings: mural, palette

Parrots: pandemonium, company, prattle

Partridges: covey

Peafowl: party, ostentation

Pelicans: squadron, pod, scoop

A colony of penguins

Penguins: colony, huddle, creche, waddle

Phalaropes: swirl, twirl, whirl, whirligig

Pheasants: nye, bevy, bouquet, covey

Plovers: congregation

Quail: battery, drift, flush, rout, shake

Ravens: murder, congress, horde, unkindness

Roadrunners: race, marathon

Rooks: clamour, parliament, building

Sapsuckers: slurp

Skimmers: scoop

Snipe: walk, wisp

Sparrows: host, quarrel, knot, flutter, crew

Starlings: chattering, affliction, murmuration, scourge, constellation

Storks: mustering

Swallows: flight, gulp

A rafter of turkeys

Swans: wedge, ballet, lamentation, whiteness, regatta

Teals: spring

Terns: cotillion

Turkeys: rafter, gobble, gang, posse

Turtledoves: pitying

Vultures: committee, venue, volt, wake

Warblers: confusion, wrench, fall

Woodcocks: fall

Woodpeckers: descent, drumming

Wrens: herd, chime

The next time you’re at the beach impress your friends and say “will you look at that squabble of gulls!”

Adapted from The Spruce.

Ross A. FeldnerRCC Board Member

Publications and Web Consultant, Ross FeldnerRoss Feldner is the lead, with Bob Musil, of the RCC Bird Watch and Wonder Program. Ross is a life-long birder and photographer who is the editor of the Friends of Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge newsletter. Ross also serves as a guide at the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, a frequent birding spot for Rachel Carson who first learned about the health effects of DDT at the laboratory there. He is also the owner/art director of New Age Graphics, a full-service graphic design firm in Wheaton, MD.

The Rachel Carson Council depends on tax-deductible gifts from concerned individuals like you. Please help if you can.

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