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Murders, Bloats, etc.

February 25, 2018

Bayou-Diversity (25 February 2018)  There is a very good chance that everyone reading this blog has witnessed a murder.  The observation may have occurred in your own back yard.   A murder, you see, is the collective term for a group of crows, as in, “a murder of crows just descended on my corn patch.”  Many such archaic terms exist for animal congregations.  Some seem to have a rational link to the species; others are outright bizarre.  It begs the question:  Who comes up with these words?  In the bird world, examples include finches, a group of which is called a charm.  Several owls are referred to as a parliament, a bunch of vultures is called a wake, and a few jays make up a scold.  My favorite word for a bird group and one that makes perfect sense is that for cormorants.  A group of these opportunistic scoundrels is called a gulp.  I didn't make this up.  In the realm of mammals, several ferrets are called a business, kangaroos and monkeys live in troops, three or more rhinoceroses make up a crash, and as we would expect a group of hippopotamuses constitutes a bloat.  It's easy for us in Louisiana to relate to a nest of snakes or a shoal of bass, not so much for a shiver of sharks or a tower of giraffes.

 

I'm not sure that there is much value in learning these obscure terms unless you are a crossword puzzle addict or writing the definitive historical novel about 17th century England.  Most should probably just remain archaic, not unlike a plague of locusts.

 

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