You’ve heard of a “gaggle” of geese or a “murder” of crows, but what do you call a group of Finches, Jays or Woodpeckers? Generic collective nouns such as “flock fleet,” or “dissimulation” can apply to all bird species; however, there are more distinctive terms used for groups of specific types of birds that often are a reflection of the bird’s personality and/or behavior.
While not all of your backyard birds have specific group names, many of them who travel or hang around in groups do so. For example, two of the most desirable birds people see in their yards are Goldfinches and Hummingbirds, and coincidentally both groups are called a “charm.” If you are looking for a party, hang out with a group of Blue Jays. A group of Blue Jays is often referred to as a “party” or a “band.” This may explain why Blue Jays often seem like they are hollering out, maybe they just might be singing or doing the Shout. A group of Woodpeckers hanging together is known as a “descent.” This makes sense because most Woodpeckers start at the top of trees and then continue to work their way down. If you see a group of Wrens together, then you are witnessing a “herd” or “chime” of Wrens. Swallows spend most of their time in the air eating insects, so the group name “flight” fits them perfectly. A group of Sparrows is known as a “host.” Even though we backyard birders are the hosts to birds we invite into our spaces, wintertime in Southeastern Arizona enables us to see many exotic Sparrow species. A group of Starlings is referred to as a “mumuration” or “chattering.”
Water fowl and birds that live around water also have creative group names when they stay together. Ducks always seem to be in large groups, but do you know what the group is actually called? A group of Ducks are actually referred to as a “raft” of Ducks. This makes sense because they do seem to glide across the water surface. Herons traveling or living together are called a “siege.” Koi pond owners would agree this name fits their nature, because Herons are known to snack on the owner’s expensive fish. An unusual group name that might actually be the most appropriate applies to a group of Flamingoes referred to as a “flamboyance.” How much more flamboyant can you get than wearing pink and high stepping everyday of you life?
Raptors and birds of prey also have unusual group names. Many people have heard the term “a kettle of Hawks”, but how many people know what a group of Eagles is called? A group of Eagles is called a “convocation.” Owls may have one of the most unusual group names and they are called a “parliament.” This makes sense as most people consider British politicians to be a little hooty indeed.