A Murder of Crows and a Kindle of Kittens

Personally, I know which of those I’d rather be in the middle of, but a glance at my backyard shows that I’m stuck with the crows. Why on earth did we have to decide on “murder” for a group of birds that are kinda creepy and smart as all hell to boot? “Flock” is a perfectly nice name for any group of birds!

Many of the bizarre collective nouns we use for groups of animals date all the way back to the publication of The Book of Saint Albans in 1486, which is believed to have been written at least in part by Dame Juliana Berners, a prioress and the author of the first book on fishing that is known to be written by a woman. Ok, she sounds kind of awesome, so I’ll forgive her for the fact that people who actually use most of the group names below just sound like pretentious assholes. (Maybe that’s just me.) Many animals have multiple group names, so in some cases I’ve just picked my favorites.

 Birds[fancy_list style=”star_list” variation=”blue”]

  • General: A flock of birds
  • A rookery of albatross
  • A gulp of cormorants
  • A herd of cranes
  • A murder of crows
  • A cote or piteousness of doves
  • A convocation of eagles
  • A mob of emus
  • A cast of falcons
  • A quiver of finches
  • A flamboyance of flamingos
  • A confusion of guinea fowl
  • A boil or kettle of hawks
  • A siege of herons
  • A charm of hummingbirds
  • A scold of jays
  • An exaltation of larks
  • A musket of lyrebirds
  • A tittering of magpies
  • A watch of nightingales
  • A troop of ostrich
  • A parliament of owls
  • A pandemonium of parrots
  • An ostentation of peafowl
  • A waddle of penguins
  • An unkindness or conspiracy of ravens
  • A murmuration of starlings
  • A mustering of storks
  • A gulp of swallows
  • A venue of vultures
  • A descent of woodpeckers
  • A cabinet of wrens


[fancy_list style=”star_list” variation=”hotpink”]

  • A pounce of cats
  • A pack of dogs
  • A busyness of ferrets
  • A horde of gerbils or hamsters
  • A herd of guinea pigs
  • An array of hedgehogs
  • A cry of hounds
  • A kindle of kittens
  • A mischief of mice or rats
  • A leash of rabbits


Farm Animals

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  • A coffle of donkeys
  • A herd or drove of cattle
  • A brood of chickens
  • A peep of chicks
  • A waddling or paddling of ducks
  • A gaggle of geese
  • A trip of goats
  • A stud of horses
  • A barren of mules
  • A drift of pigs or sheep
  • A posse of turkeys


Creepy Crawlies

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  • An army of ants or caterpillars
  • A hive, rabble, or grist of bees
  • A flutter of butterflies
  • An intrusion of cockroaches or stinkbugs
  • A cloud of flies
  • A plague of locusts
  • A scourge of mosquitos
  • A bed of scorpions
  • A walk of snails
  • A clutter of spiders


Other Mammals
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  • General: a herd of herbivores
  • General: a pack of carnivores
  • A shrewdness of apes
  • A flange of baboons
  • A company of badgers
  • A cloud of bats
  • A sleuth of bears
  • A sounder of boars
  • An obstinacy of buffalo (African)
  • A caravan of camels
  • A coalition of (male) cheetahs
  • A harem of chimpanzees
  • A rangale of deer
  • A memory of elephants
  • A skulk of foxes
  • A tower of giraffes
  • An implausibility of gnu
  • A down or flick of hares
  • A bloat or thunder of hippopotamuses
  • A cackle of hyenas (or rads!)
  • A court of kangaroos
  • A colony of koalas
  • A conspiracy of lemurs
  • A leap of leopards
  • A pride of lions
  • A gang of meerkats
  • A labour of moles
  • A prickle of porcupines
  • A coterie or town of prairie dogs
  • A gaze of raccoons
  • A stubbornness of rhinoceroses
  • A surfeit of skunks
  • A scurry of squirrels
  • An ambush or streak of tigers
  • A pot of water buffalo
  • A sneak of weasels
  • A zeal of zebras


Sea Life[fancy_list style=”star_list” variation=”teal”]

  • General: A school of fish
  • A consortium of crabs
  • A pod of dolphins or whales
  • A fry of eels
  • An arrangement of elephant seals
  • A glint of goldfish
  • An army of herring
  • A smack of jellyfish
  • A blessing of narwhals
  • A consortium of octopus
  • A raft of otters
  • A run of salmon
  • A family of sardines
  • A colony of sea lions
  • A shoal of seahorses
  • A harem of seals
  • A shiver of sharks
  • An audience of squid
  • A fever of stingrays
  • A hover of trout


Reptiles and Amphibians

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  • A congregation of alligators
  • A quiver of cobras
  • A bask of crocodiles
  • A knot of frogs or snakes
  • A bank of Komodo dragons
  • A maelstrom of salamanders
  • A lump of toads
  • A generation of vipers


Large group of ducks swimming by a pier
I suppose this would be a paddling instead of a waddling.

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

9 replies on “A Murder of Crows and a Kindle of Kittens”

I don’t care that I might sound more like a pretentious asshole, so many of these are amazing and others just sound like someone was getting bored and a little punchy (possibly drunk?) after naming so many animal collections (a pot of water buffalo…? really?). But there is something infinitely appealing about a phrase like “a company of badgers”, like they’re all in little business suits with tiny briefcases, looking very serious. Or maybe I just think badgers are adorable anyway…

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