Bird Bites
THE ODD NAMES FOR BIRD GROUPINGS
If you want to join the "party, you may have to find a "band of Jays ...
One of the most interesting habits of birders has been our tendency to assign names other than “flock” to a group or gathering of a specific type of birds. It’s also enlightening to see how we have attempted to humanize them over the centuries by assigning nicknames that hint at our perceived behavior of these birds.
Below are just a few of more amusing ones:
·        Chickens: perhaps not the most creative of names is “peep”. If you’ve ever seen a peep of freshly hatched chicks, you know how cute and fitting this is. Also: brood, clutch
·        Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” demonstrated how fitting a name is a Murder of Crows . Also called a Congress, a name that they share with a flock of Ravens (which are also called an “unkindness” ) ; I’ll leave you to make your own assessment as to why carrion birds should be named for a law-making body.
·        Chickdee: “banditry”.  Understandable when one sees the mask of our January Bird of the Month.
·        Doves:  there IS a “piteousness” in their constant cooing that sounds lonely and pathetic. Also: dole, flight
·        Finches:  if you’ve been lucky enough to see dozens of finches of different species and colors flitting around a feeder in winter, you easily understand why they are a “charm”. Also: Goldfinches are called a "trembling."
·        Geese : gaggle, of course, when on the ground, skein (in flight), plump (flying close together)
·        Hawks : I’m not sure why a group of Hawks should be called a “lease.”  Is it a commentary on leasing agents or realtors? Also: boil, cast, and kettle.
·        Jays : band, party, and—my father’s favorite—scold. The blue jay was also my father’s favorite bird, and I’ve often had scolds of blue jays pursuing me through the forest, living up to the name.
·        Magpies:  there is something rather pious about a congregation of these birds. Also: tiding
·        Owls:  with the apparent intelligence of these raptors, the names “wisdom and study ” are no surprise. But aren’t those names at odds with “parliament ”? Also: bazaar, glaring
·        Roadrunners: race, marathon . Well, duh…
·        Vultures: if you’ve ever been a member of a group trying to arrive at a decision, particularly about how to assign funds, you understand why a group of vultures is called a “committee” . Also: kettle in flight and wake when feeding.
Birds Need Our Help - YOU Can Make a Difference
Our partners at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in collaboration with other researchers, have published a new study that evaluates the populations of more than 500 North American bird species. The results are nothing short of shocking! Today, the skies over North America are home to nearly three billion fewer birds than they were in 1970— which means that almost 1 out of every 4 birds have disappeared from our lives over the past 50 years.