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Fun with birds and words

July 22, 2013
Ravens (Corvus sp.)

Ravens (Corvus sp.)

The collective noun for a group of crows is a murder. The origin of the term has been lost in time. Some think it is derived from the medieval torture of ‘crow cages’, where the guilty (and sometimes not-so-guilty) was left to die suspended in cages while the crows feasted on the body. Another school of thought is that crows will euthanise a sick or old member of their group. Either way, it probably doesn’t matter because the birds pictured are ravens (crows do not inhabit the King Parrot Creek valley). The collective term for ravens is an unkindness. This refers to an old legend that ravens push their young out of the nest to survive as best they can.

Powerful Owls (Ninox strenua)

Powerful Owls (Ninox strenua)

The collective name for a group of owls is a parliament. Once again the origin of the term has been lost but in ancient times, owls were the symbol of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. We can presume that wisdom would be a desirable quality for a parliament. Luckily whoever invented the term didn’t see our current parliament or else we would probably have a ‘rudeness’, ‘haranguing’ or ‘backstabbing’ of owls.

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Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla)

Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla)

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The term gala, meaning celebration or festive occasion, is derived from the Old French word galer meaning to ‘make merry’. The word galah of course has nothing to do with Old French; it just sounds the same. It is derived from gilaa, an Aboriginal term for these birds from northern NSW.

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White-winged Choughs (Corcorax melanorhamphos)

White-winged Choughs (Corcorax melanorhamphos)

A clatter or clattering is the collective name for a group of choughs…don’t ask me why. These birds live in matriarchal groups that roam the bush scratching the ground for things to eat. Anyone who has planted a vegetable garden with choughs nearby will know just how much damage they can do.

Thx to the Coretext crew for the inspiration.

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