Collective nouns for birds have been around since at least the mid 15th century; some describing the bird’s behaviour or appearance, whilst others a play on words or even poetry. And then there are those reflecting the thoughts of a hunter trying to find them, and other terms which seem quite obscure. Whatever the origin, I find these collective nouns rather entertaining which might explain why I have two books on the dissimulation of birds and I have written multiple collective noun posts!
- Orchestra of Avocets
- Decoration of Buntings
- Swim of Cormorants
- Dance of Cranes
- Congregation of Egrets
- Pat of Flamingos
- Pantheon and prayer of Godwits
- Charm of Goldfinches
- Circlage of Martins
- Fling of Sandpipers
- Dropping of Sheldrakes
- Watch of Shrikes
- Whisp of Snipes
- Runcible of Spoonbills
- Spell of Stints
- Muster of Storks
- Run of Swamphens
- Venue and kettle of Vultures
And I thought today I share another, the committee of terns. Although they didn’t seem quite organised enough to be a proper committee, and one member of the small sub-committee was not impressed by the behaviour of her fellow member. I thought at first, and so did she, he was wooing with the fish, as this is quite typical courting behaviour. However instead of handing over the fish to her he ate it!
Perhaps these terns are not committees, in fact further research suggests that it is the Common Terns which form committees, and all of my photographs in this post are of the Little Tern. So maybe instead I should one of the alternatives collective nouns such as a ‘U’ of terns or a cotillion of terns. My favourite is a moustache of terns, however that is saved for Whiskered Terns. I think therefore I will use ternery of Little Terns as this group had plenty of attitude!
PS You can expect many more as going through my photographic archives I see I have still to share the colony of bee-eaters, a grain of sanderlings, the mischief of magpies, a screech of gulls, an exultation of skylarks, a quarrel of sparrows, a confusion of warblers, a volery of wagtails, a commotion of coots, a tangle of knots and even the curfew of curlews!
And I thought it was a boring flock of birds.. How interesting..
The trick is remembering all the names!
A butty of Sandwich Terns
Actually I’ll rewrite my contribution, a loaf of Sandwich Terns makes more sense.
It does, but think I will always think of butty now!!
Perhaps the terns were confused by the choice of name for their group, which would explain the unruly behaviour of some of the members.
and typical committee behaviour!
What a fabulous set of terms!
A volery of wagtails puzzled me as I had never heard the word and had guessed it means a place where voles live. I have just seen the jokes built into these – a pantheon of godwits / a runcible of spoonbills…
The jokes are brilliant aren’t they 🙂 like you though I find the volery intriguing and confusing
I thought it was a Kitchen of Spoonbills 🙂
Hee hee, like that one. They behave like they are a kitchen sometimes!
Quite a noisy kitchen
I love these Becky! How about running a competition to get readers to submit their own? (Ones they make up). Like “A Sizzle of Long-tailed Tits!”
Ooh like that idea…..and Long Tailed certainly sizzle! Maybe we could run it in the early spring
Great! Plenty of time for me to think.
How amusing! And what about the lovely little Ruddy Turnstones? A Rush maybe? They certainly came rushing towards us today obviously expecting some Cornish pasty crumbs! Or perhaps a Joy of Ruddy Turnstones as they always make laugh with their dashing around and excited squeals!
Ooh I’ll have to check to see….they were certainly a rush on Sunday when avoiding the tide!
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