Thursday, December 28, 2006

Crazy names for animals

I wanted to share with you an enjoyable list I found on www.massbird.org. Massbird is an internet site with lots of links and information related to birdwatching in Massachusetts, including a listserve that anybody can write into with unusual (or usual) bird sightings, observations or ruminations. I check it daily. A couple days ago some folks posted a list of literary terms for various multitudes of animals, and I've found them quite interesting; sometimes obscure, sometimes apt, sometimes hilarious. I thought several of them would be perfect novel titles, and lo and behold, a search on Amazon found that some of the best ones already have been used as such. Darn! I was set to title my next book A Parliament of Owls. Apparently these are called venereal terms, and many stem from a fifteenth century source having to do with hunting. James Lipton's book An Exaltation of Larks gives these and many more.
Here they are (there are a couple duplicates; I just cut and paste from two different sources):

cete of badgers
sleuth of bears
sloth of bears
singular of boars [French sanglier]
gang of elk
business of ferrets
earth of foxes
leash of foxes
skulk of foxes
trip of goats
husk of hares
richness of martens
labor of moles
nest of rabbits
dray of squirrels
sounder of swine
pack of wolves
route of wolves

pace of asses
drove of cattle
clowder of cats [clutter]
peep of chickens
rag of colts
brood of hens
drift of hogs
passel of hogs [parcel]
harras of horses
kindle of kittens
barren of mules
span of mules
string of ponies

shrewdness of apes
obstinacy of buffalo
bask of crocodiles
tower of giraffe
leap of leopards
pride of lions
crash of rhinoceroses

school of fish [shoal]
bed of oysters
pod of seals
knot of toads
hover of trout
bale of turtles
gam of whales

dissimulation of birds
sedge of cranes [siege, as in siege engines/cranes; infl. by sedge grasses?]
murder of crows
dule of doves [dule = French "deuil" = mourning/pitying]
pitying of doves
charm of finches
gaggle of geese on water or land
skein of geese in flight
cast of hawks
siege of herons
party of jays
exaltation of larks
tidings of magpies
parliament of owls
company of parrots
covey of partridges
ostentation of peacocks
bouquet of pheasant
nide of pheasant
nye of pheasant
congregation of plovers
unkindness of ravens
building of rooks
walk of snipe
murmuration of starlings
mustering of storks
wedge of swans
rafter of turkeys
descent of woodpeckers
BOUQUET of pheasants
BUILDING of rooks
CAST of hawks
CHARM of finches
CHATTERING of starlings
CONGREGATION of plovers
CONVOCATION of eagles
COVEY of quail, partridges
DECEIT of lapwings
DESCENT of woodpeckers
DISSIMULATION of birds
DULE of doves (a what? "dule" is not in my Webster's)
EXALTATION of larks
FALL of woodcocks
FLIGHT of swallows
GAGGLE of geese
HOST of sparrows
MURDER of crows
MURMURATION of starlings
MUSTERING of storks
OSTENTATION of peacocks
PADDLING of ducks
PARLIAMENT of owls
PEEP of chickens
PITYING of turtle doves
RAFTER of turkeys
SIEGE of herons
SPRING of teal
TIDINGS of magpies
UNKINDNESS of ravens
WALK of snipe
WATCH of nightingales

1 comment:

Ocean and forest walks: said...

That is a fun post - I enjoy your pictures too - keep blogging away - Cheers from British Columbia and Happy New Year!