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Names of Groups of Birds

Collective Nouns to Describe Bird Flocks

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Raft of Ducks

A group of ducks is called a raft.

Ingrid Taylar

On a good day in the field, a birder might see a raft, a band, a host, a chime and even a kettle. But what exactly are they seeing? Different types of birds have different collective nouns to describe large groups, and while many of the terms are obsolete and seldom used, they are still familiar to birders. Many of the terms are descriptive not only of the group of birds but also of their behavior or personalities, and birders who understand these esoteric words and can apply them to the appropriate birds will enjoy birding even more.

Names for Groups of Birds

Several collective nouns can apply to all bird species, such as flock, fleet, parcel and dissimulation. These words can describe a group of birds of any species, but more distinctive terms are often used for specific types of birds in large groups.

  • Birds of Prey (hawks, falcons): Cast, cauldron, kettle
  • Cormorants: Flight
  • Coots: Covert
  • Crows: Murder, congress, horde
  • Ducks: Raft, team, paddling
  • Eagles: Convocation, congregation
  • Finches: Charm
  • Flamingos: Flamboyance
  • Game Birds (quail, grouse, ptarmigan): Covey, pack, bevy
  • Geese: Skein, wedge, gaggle, plump
  • Gulls: Colony
  • Herons: Siege, sedge, scattering
  • Hummingbirds: Charm, glittering, shimmer, tune, bouquet
  • Jays: Band, party, scold
  • Larks: Bevy, exaltation, ascension
  • Owls: Parliament, wisdom, study
  • Peafowl: Party
  • Pelicans: Squadron, pod, scoop
  • Penguins: Colony, huddle
  • Pheasants: Nye, bevy, bouquet
  • Plovers: Congregation
  • Ravens: Murder, congress, horde
  • Rooks: Clamour, parliament
  • Sparrows: Host, quarrel, knot
  • Starlings: Chattering, affliction, murmuration
  • Swallows: Flight, gulp
  • Swans: Wedge, ballet, lamentation
  • Turkeys: Rafter, gobble
  • Vultures: Committee, venue, volt, wake
  • Woodpeckers: Descent
  • Wrens: Herd, chime

The collective nouns for different groups of birds can be a fun bit of birding lingo to use when describing what you see in the field.

Photo – Raft of Ducks © Ingrid Taylar

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