Everybody’s heard of a gaggle of geese and a covey of quail. But what’s a group of penguins called? And a “conspiracy” of ravens? Maybe the way we label birds says more about us than it does about them.
Convocations, Coveys and Charms
By Monica Gokey
This is BirdNote.
[Group of Mallards]
When birds get together, we humans have a knack for assigning them some clever and unusual names.
Most of us know the common ones… a covey of quail, a parliament of owls, a gaggle of geese.
But what about a group of penguins? Well, it depends. On land they’re called a waddle or sometimes a huddle. But on the water, they’re a “raft” of penguins.
Here’s another: a charm of hummingbirds. Take the Anna’s Hummingbird --
[darting flight sounds of Anna’s Hummingbird]
The way its iridescent plumage catches the sun, it’s like a flying jewel, darting from flower to flower. *Now, you’re not likely to see hummingbirds in groups in the wild, but the whole picture is charming, indeed. [Bzzz! Bzzz!]
A convocation of eagles.
[Bald Eagle sounds]
Does that sound “stately” to you?
What about a conspiracy of ravens. Are they truly conspiring about something? Or do we just perceive them as untrustworthy?
[Common Raven sounds]
Maybe the way we label birds says more about us than it does about them.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Support for BirdNote comes from American Bird Conservancy and Bringing Back the Birds, a photo book by Owen Deutsch on the importance of protecting birdscapes. Available at amazon dot com.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Mary McCann
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Mallards, LNS# 3430, recorded by AA Allen. Canada Geese LNS# 60842 recorded by WWH Gunn. Emperor Penguins, from YouTube, recorded by Anthony Powell. Anna's Hummingbird, LNS# 6121, recorded by DG Allen. Bald Eagle recorded by J Storm. Common Raven, LNS# 107326, recorded by WL Hershberger.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote November 2019
ID# language-08-2019-11-22 language-08
For more collective nouns, see https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1969/1/29/an-exaltation-of-larks-pan…