The other day we were driving down a county road and saw a bunch of big black birds. “There’s a murder,” my husband said.
Since I only listen to him half the time, I decided I must have missed something. “What? Where?”
“Right there, those birds, aren’t
“They look like buzzards to me. What did you say about
“A flock of crows is called a murder.”
“Oh. Okay, but what is it called if they’re buzzards?”
This led to a very interesting conversation about what different groups of animals are called. A little research told us that besides a “murder of crows”, there are lots of fun, whimsical, and weird names for groups of animals.
For instance, for obvious reasons, a group of hyenas is called a ‘cackle’, a bunch of giraffes is a ‘tower’, and herd of hippos is a ‘thunder’. These actually make sense, although the only type of thunder you are likely to see around here is the kind that comes from the sky.
We do have squirrels though, and if you see a bunch of them it’s a scurry. But you don’t usually see more than a couple at a time because they are very good at scurrying…hence the name.
Lots of animals are simply herds, such as cows, sheep, deer and antelope, but some have dual citizenship. For instance, a herd of elk or a herd of buffalo are also known as a ‘gang’. Obviously, elk and buffalo think they are much cooler than sheep
Birds especially have very interesting names. Although you can always call a bunch of birds a flock, you will impress everybody if you know that a bunch of eagles are a ‘convocation’, peacocks are an ‘ostentation’, and owls are a ‘parliament’.
These sound much grander and wiser than a ‘murder’ of crows. Maybe back in ancient times eagles, peacocks and owls were royalty while crows were just riff-raff. Even ravens must be better than crows because a flock of ravens is just an ‘unkindness’, which is better than a ‘murder’ any day.
A few more fun names that I found were a ‘prickle ‘ of porcupines, a ‘romp’ of otters and believe it or not a ‘barrel’
But what about my original question? What do you call a bunch of buzzards? A ‘wake’! Get it? Buzzards having a wake? Yep, whoever came up with this stuff really had a sense