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Monday, November 07, 2011

A Murder of Crows, A Squabble of Seagulls, A Covert of Coots and more

A "murder" of crows (name for a collection or group of crows)

A "squabble" of seagulls

A "fling" of sandpipers

A "gulp" of swallows

A "covert" of coots

What with the "murmuration" (i.e. group) of starlings making the rounds, (there's a video of a very large flock of starlings going to roost) I thought I would post some of the collective noun names for groups of birds. Who thinks up these things?
For the complete list of collective noun names for birds go here.

More importantly, it is always fascinating to see large flocks of birds and scientists are still studying how birds can react so quickly in large flocks and not collide. There is no leader of the flock. Birds have lightening fast reflexes that allow them to fly and swerve together. Often the large flock is a predator avoidance technique, where birds are staying together, most trying to be in the middle of the flock as a safer place when the Peregrine Falcon is hunting the flock. Sometimes birds flock for migration, or going to roost.

We have seen large flocks of thousands of shorebirds at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL, swerving away from falcons. The tight flock of American Coots in the photo above, taken at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL, are huddled because a Bald Eagle was hunting them.
Tree Swallows migrate in flocks that can number in the thousands. You can see them in coastal regions and in FL in winter.
Crows, in winter, form huge winter roosts, sometimes of many thousands. At dusk, you can see rivers of crows, all flying to a meeting place where they will roost in trees together. At dawn they return to their territories.
This time of year, along highways and near bridges, you can see large flocks of European Starlings, who roost together at night.
Look around you, become aware. Birds are doing fascinating flock behaviors right near you.

1 comment:

Kay G. said...

"An unkindness of ravens" is one I remember.
We often see birds migrating, we live in Georgia and sometimes we will see a bird we have never seen before. When we look it up, we realize it is on its way!