Collective Nouns in the Garden

Collective nouns are (as the name implies) noun applied to a group or collection of animals or things taken as a whole.  When applied to groups of animals, the English have traditionally referred to them as “terms of venery” or “nouns of assembly” and it seems that they are based in English hunting tradition.  I think that the reason people continue to find terms of venery intriguing is that that are so evocative of the animals themselves at least that is why I think they are interesting.  If you really become enamored of these terms you may want to consult An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton (he of Inside the Actor’s Studio fame) which  catalogs collective nouns.  Here are some we have spotted in our garden over the past few years:

An annoyance of grackles

A murder of crows

A scurry of chipmunks

A Vatican of cardinals

A banditry of chickadees

A bevy of doves

A charm of finches

A glittering of hummingbirds

A quarrel of sparrows

A rafter of turkeys

A drumming of woodpeckers

A flutter of butterflies

A skulk of foxes

A brace of mallards

A warren of rabbits

A dray of squirrels

A round of robins

A scold of jays

A banditry of titmice

A coterie of groundhogs


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