Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Murder of Crows, an Unkindness of Ravens


I was tucked into a leather chair enjoying my second cup of coffee of the morning and reading "Still Live: Adventures in Taxidermy" by Melissa Milgrom when she mentioned an "unkindness" of ravens. How have I gone this many years and not heard this term?!

Title: The Raven (Corvus Corax), Source: White, The Rev. Gilbert: “The Natural History of Selborne” (1879). Image provided by

Years ago, I'd learned of another fantastical name for a group of birds, a "murder" of crows, and upon discovering "unkindness" of course I rushed to my computer to learn of more bird group names.

Wikipedia has a page called "List of collective nouns for birds." A few of my favorites are "a seige of bitterns," a "watch of nightingales," a "parliament of owls," there are so many. I feel my life is one step closer to completeness now that I'm aware of this whim to name groups of birds with such fanciful names.

Returning to the book that started this line of query, "Still Life," there is a great review of the book with photos on one my favorite blogs, Morbid Anatomy.

Back to my book and now cold coffee...


  1. Okay, siege of bitterns is awesome. I am now fascinated by list of collective nouns for birds. Must read!

  2. I stumbled upon an "unkindness" as the name for ravens in number, today, myself. I, too, had heard about the wonderful "murder of crows." Obviously, this is how I wound up here. If I ever get to name (this is beyond unlikely) a group of birds, it will be a pleasure, but the name would be, "an annoyance."