Name That Flock

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If you have finches, jays, and sparrows at your feeders or visiting your bird baths, you may also have charms, bands, and hosts in your backyard without even knowing it. While all groups of birds can be called flocks, certain types of birds have fun and unique names for their flocks.

 

Names for Bird Flocks

All birds gather in flocks or fleets, but these birds are something more when they form large groups:

  • Finches: Charm
  • Hummingbirds: Charm
  • Sparrows: Host, Knot
  • Swallows: Flight
  • Jays: Band, Party
  • Ravens: Murder, Horde
  • Starlings: Chattering
  • Wrens: Herd, Chime

Many of these flock names are similar to how the birds behave in groups: a large number of jays, for example, can sound like a raucous party, while a group of hummingbirds is undoubtedly charming. It is relatively common to find these fun flocks in your backyard, depending on how many bird feeders you have and how bird-friendly your yard is. Out in the field, however, flocks are less common, but still have unique names for groups of birds you may never see at your feeders.

  • Hawks: Kettle
  • Ducks: Raft
  • Quail: Covey
  • Gulls: Colony
  • Swans: Ballet
  • Geese: Gaggle

Both in the backyard and in the field, flocks of birds may form for different reasons: a good food source, a breeding colony, or a migrating group are common explanations for unique flocks, and the flocks may only last a short period of time or they may persist for weeks or months. Some birds form flocks of hundreds or thousands of individuals, while others may only have small flocks of family members. No matter what the size of the flock, however, it can be fun to see them in active groups and to know what to call them.

 

- Article courtesy of Melissa Mayntz


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