A Storytelling of Crows

I added collective nouns to the animals featured in my last post and  realise now that a lot of these names sound the way they mean, or describe how the group looks, or how they move or what they do. Had you heard that a group of crows or rooks or ravens is called “a storytelling?” Crows here, in Australia, are particularly talkative. I need to listen up!


Words have sounds, rhythms and quirkiness in them. As a ten year old, some of my weekly homework consisted of learning lists of words, by heart,  from a cloth – bound edition  of First Aid in English by Angus Mciver, a Scots headmaster (published in 1938 and still in print). Besides learning similes. plurals and tenses, we learned collective nouns. Fridays were test days and the competition was stiff. Here’s a few reminders –

brace of deer ( two).


  One jellyfish does not make a smack!


Living up to their name, a paddling of ducks.


Goats gather in trips. “Trip trap! Trip trap! Big Billy Goat Gruff?


A bale of turtles?


A school of dolphins – had these been porpoises this would have been a turmoil.


Lamentations of swans.


(6 swans a-swimming) DSCF0929

A Springtime flock with the odd black sheep.


Is this a brood? Might it be a ‘cuddle’ of ducklings? I know they hatch from a clutch of eggs…


Thankfully, I have only ever seen a trogle of snakes on TV. During the North American Spring, harmless Garter snakes emerge from hibernation, en masse! If you’re brave, see it here


And, just in case you’ve never seen a murmuration of starlings, here’s a clip from Gretna Green in Scotland.


All text and photos by Meg

 Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 thoughts on “A Storytelling of Crows

  1. Dear Meg,
    What a fun post! What an interesting language, and how appropriate these are. I recognize a couple of those shots from your last trip to the Northwest! Thanks so much for sharing.


  2. Loved the Greta Green clip. Wonderful for meditation. Do you think people in Greta Green are calmer as a result of these birds? I think collective nouns are wonderful. Brian Wildsmith has done a wonderful book of collective nouns and birds.


    • Hi ffran. I do think it is very calming watching this live in the clear Autumn skies at dusk. I’ve seen a small one, but some in the UK are made up of more than a million birds! The starlings eventually come in to roost after socialising this way. In my version of Wilfred Boman’s “Thrush Girl,” I made her “Starling Child” because of this unique, visual style of flying. (Will look out for Wildsmith’s book.)


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