A Flamboyance of Flamingos and Other Brilliant Bird Groups

A Flock of...What?

A few images or sounds might come to mind when you think of birds. The soaring, the fluttering, the hopping, the chirping. The ones that waddle and slide, wade and stand, warble, quack, or honk. Or maybe you think of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, or that time one pooed on you. As inconvenient as that is, they say it’s good luck.

There’s so much variety with birds! They can be as dark and ominous as a raven, or as delicate and detailed as a hummingbird, or anywhere in between. Many of these birds are downright amazing! Let's take flight and review some of the most creative (and surprising) collective nouns of bird species. 

A Congress of Crows

You may have heard of a murder of crows, but a group of these ominous birds is also called a congress (hmmm wonder why....). This might have to do with the close association we make with crows and death, like how they sit perched, along with their larger corvus family cousin the raven, haunting dark cemeteries or discussing the fate of passersby.

A Conspiracy of Ravens

“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore,’” wrote Edgar Allan Poe about a raven taunting a lovesick man over his lost love, Lenore. There’s that death association again. Ravens feed largely on dead animals, so it’s no wonder a group of them is known as a constable, an unkindness, or a conspiracy.

A Kettle of Hawks

Apparently, it’s rare for birds of prey to flock together, but the Harris’s hawk does. When hunting together, these hawks are called a cast or kettle.

Kettle is a term often used to describe birds who circle in groups, much like the Harris's hawk and its friends. As they circle, especially when catching an upward moving air current, makes them look like steam pouring out of a boiling kettle.

A Looming of Owls

A group of owls is a called a looming. They’re also a wisdom or a parliament, which is fitting, as owls appear as if they're discussing something profound up in trees.

A Pitying of Doves

The call of a mourning dove has been compared to the moan of a mourning mother. Its chest and throat puff out, resulting in a heartbreaking wail of lament. So yes, that’s why a group of them is called a pitying or a piteousness. Poor doves.

A Ballet of Swans

There are many names for a group of swans: bevy and herd don’t quite capture their grace, and whiteness is a bit one-dimensional. But ballet is the most elegant choice, hinting at the swan's refined sophistication. Even ugly ducklings can look forward to one day being a part of the ballet!

A Flamboyance of Flamingos

A group of flamingos is, most amazingly, called a flamboyance.

Both flamingo and flamboyance come from words referring to fire. Flamingo comes from the Spanish and Portuguese flamengo, literally, “flame-colored.” Flamboyance comes from French, meaning "to flame" or "flair."

A Party of Peacocks

Peacocks are a true spectacle for observers. And their group names are just as exciting! A group of peacocks is called a party or, if you're feeling more displeased with these extravagant birds, an ostentation.

A Waddle of Penguins

Even though they can't fly, penguins have distinct names for when they are on land and in the water. A group of penguins on land is a colony, or a waddle (because they waddle side to side when they walk, obviously). In the water, a group of penguins is considered a raft

A Paddling of Ducks

Teamwork is a theme for ducks, which isn’t that surprising since they’re so communicative. Quacking this way and that, there’s always a few or more together, with little ducklings in tow. Adorable! Groups of these highly social creatures are called a paddling (as in, we're paddling down the river, not "that's a paddling").

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