A Group of Birds is Called: Exploring the Fascinating World of Avian Terminology

When it comes to the English language, there are numerous peculiarities and curiosities that can captivate our attention. One such curiosity lies in the collective nouns used to describe groups of animals. From a “murder” of crows to a “parliament” of owls, these terms often evoke a sense of wonder and intrigue. In this article, we will delve into the world of avian terminology and explore the question: What is a group of birds called?

The Origins of Collective Nouns

Collective nouns, also known as terms of venery, have a rich history that dates back to medieval times. They were initially used by hunters to describe groups of animals they encountered during their pursuits. Over time, these terms became more widely known and adopted into the English language, adding a touch of poetic flair to our vocabulary.

While some collective nouns have straightforward origins, others are shrouded in mystery. The origins of many avian collective nouns are often debated among linguists and etymologists. Nevertheless, these terms have become firmly entrenched in our language and continue to fascinate both bird enthusiasts and language aficionados alike.

A Plethora of Avian Collective Nouns

Now, let’s explore some of the most intriguing and captivating collective nouns used to describe groups of birds:

1. A Flock of Birds

The most common and widely recognized collective noun for birds is a “flock.” This term is used to describe a group of birds flying, feeding, or roosting together. Flocks can vary in size, ranging from a small gathering of a few individuals to massive formations that number in the thousands.

Example: “As the sun began to set, a flock of seagulls gracefully soared above the ocean.”

2. A Colony of Birds

When birds gather in large numbers to breed or nest in a specific area, they are often referred to as a “colony.” This term is commonly used to describe species such as penguins, herons, and gannets, which exhibit communal nesting behaviors.

Example: “The coastal cliffs were teeming with a colony of puffins, their colorful beaks standing out against the rugged landscape.”

3. A Parliament of Birds

One of the more whimsical collective nouns for birds is a “parliament.” This term is primarily associated with owls, known for their wise and contemplative demeanor. The origin of this term is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated from the idea that owls gather together to discuss important matters.

Example: “Under the moonlit sky, a parliament of owls perched on the branches, their hoots echoing through the night.”

4. A Murder of Crows

Perhaps one of the most well-known and evocative collective nouns for birds is a “murder” of crows. This term is often associated with the dark and mysterious nature of crows, as well as their tendency to gather in large numbers. The origin of this term is thought to stem from the Old English word “murthor,” meaning a flock or group.

Example: “As I walked through the eerie forest, a murder of crows watched from the treetops, their piercing caws sending shivers down my spine.”

5. A Charm of Finches

Finches, with their vibrant plumage and melodious songs, are often referred to as a “charm” when they gather together. This term perfectly captures the enchanting and captivating nature of these small songbirds.

Example: “In the garden, a charm of finches flitted from branch to branch, their cheerful chirping filling the air with joy.”

Unusual and Lesser-Known Collective Nouns

While the collective nouns mentioned above are some of the most widely recognized, there are numerous other terms that describe groups of birds. Here are a few more examples:

  • A gaggle of geese
  • A kettle of hawks
  • A siege of herons
  • A descent of woodpeckers
  • A bouquet of pheasants

These lesser-known collective nouns add a touch of whimsy and intrigue to our language, allowing us to paint vivid pictures with words.


Q: Are collective nouns for birds standardized?

A: While some collective nouns for birds have become widely accepted and recognized, there is no official governing body that determines their usage. As a result, different sources may suggest different terms for the same group of birds. However, certain terms have gained more popularity and are commonly used.

Q: Are collective nouns only used for birds?

A: No, collective nouns are used to describe groups of various animals, including mammals, insects, and even people. For example, a group of lions is called a “pride,” while a group of bees is called a “swarm.”

Q: Can collective nouns be used interchangeably?

A: While collective nouns are often associated with specific animals, they can sometimes be used interchangeably. For example, both “flock” and “colony” can be used to describe a group of birds, depending on the context and behavior of the birds in question.

Q: Are collective nouns for birds used in scientific contexts?

A: In scientific contexts, collective nouns are generally not used. Instead, scientists refer to groups of birds using more specific terms, such as “a colony of penguins” or “a flock of sparrows.”

Q: Are there regional variations in collective nouns for birds?

A: Yes, there can be regional variations in the collective nouns used to describe groups of birds. Different regions or communities may have their own unique terms or variations of existing terms.


The world of avian terminology is a fascinating one, filled with captivating collective nouns that add color and depth to our language. From the common “flock” to the more whimsical “parliament” and “murder,” these terms evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity. While the origins of many collective nouns remain a mystery, their usage has become firmly established in the English language.

Whether you find yourself marveling at a flock of birds soaring through the sky or observing a colony of penguins huddled together, the collective nouns we use to describe these groups add an extra layer of intrigue to our encounters with the avian world.

So, the next time you spot a

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