We Witnessed a Murder!

While Len and I were standing in our driveway, our attention was caught by a murder of crows.

“A group of crows is called a ‘murder.’ There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions. For instance, there is a folktale that rows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow.”

It was pretty cool to watch them land in the bare tree branches and listen to the cacophony of cawing.

Click the “play” button on the video below to hear the murder.

Have you ever seen a/an:

  • SHREWDNESS of apes
  • OBSTINACY of buffalo
  • POUNCE of cats
  • COALITION of cheetahs
  • GULP of cormorants
  • CONVOCATION of eagles
  • TROUBLING of goldfish
  • HEDGE of herons
  • BLOAT of hippos
  • EXALTATION of larks
  • LOUNGE of lizards
  • PARLIAMENT of owls
  • OSTENTATION of peacocks
  • TOWER of giraffes

What’s the most recent grouping of animals you’ve seen?

© lauriebuchanan.com

83 thoughts on “We Witnessed a Murder!

  1. Delightful, Laurie. We mostly see single folks in my woods: a bear here, a moose there. However, I do have a flock of chickens who roost in my basement each winter, in a section directly under my bedroom. They wake me each morning with their lively chatter.

  2. You may remember I wrote about a KETTLE of vultures that flew right over my head when I was walking in the park in our town by the river.
    I love listening to crows–they are very social.

  3. There is the Gaggle of Geese we watched flying above the trees this weekend. I don’t know if the term applies to geese that are grounded, or if they are called a flight of geese….I do know there were lots of them, and they were all in a hurry!

  4. A pounce of cats…how fitting. I feed some neighborhood cats: mama and her two wild boys. They wait for me to peek through the living room blinds. Soon as I open the garage door, they come swarming in. I love it! They want their food, now , please! And they do pounce on it, too.

  5. Fun post, Laurie!

    Every day I see a gaggle of Canada geese and flocks of mallards on the lake. I don’t believe I’ve every seen a pride of lions except in Lion King. Oh, but I can imagine the contest in Chaucer’s “Parlement of Foules,” where Nature convenes a parliament at which the birds will all choose their mates. ❤

    • Marian — I love that you’re geesed and ducked every day. I remember when you first moved to your new location and shared photos of the lovely lake.

      I love your thoughts on Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules 🙂

  6. We have lots of Canada geese living here in Northern Colorado, so it’s not unusual to see a gaggle along the road or in parks. Flyovers are common as well. Geese in the air have several other names. Wedge seems to fit the best.

  7. I had to stop my car last week, to wait for the rafter of wild turkeys to cross the road. Some words make me wonder how they came to be associated with a particular group of animals; others seem perfectly appropriate: a pounce of cats, a gulp of cormorants, a tower of giraffes…

      • You know, it always brings me joy, no matter how regularly it happens. I wait for turkeys or ducks or deer to cross the road, always with a smile on my face. Turtles, I get out and help along, for fear that the next guy won’t be as patient as I am.

  8. I have actually seen a convocation of eagles and that is the perfect word to describe it. We were walking on an old railroad bridges that had been converted to walking trail. We stood for awhile watching eagles in the trees. When we turned to go back there were eagles on the pillars or the bridge. As we came close to the front pair they few back and landed on pillars farther back. It was very solemn and ceremonial and continued to the end of the bridge. I told Bob I felt like we were walking the gauntlet. Of course no camera that day, but it would probably had scared them off. But I will keep this very vivid memory forever.

  9. This Fall I saw many skeins of geese flying over our home. It is comforting listening to the honking of geese, signalling me to prepare for the next season as they are, but also telling me they’ll see me in the spring.

  10. I have had a queer of quail outside my window the past couple of days. They’ve found where I toss the seed for the ground feeders. Or would you prefer we call it a bevy?

  11. References to magpies above reminded me of the children’s rhyme we were reminded of during our recent trip to Ireland. Here’s the rhyme:

    One for sorrow,
    Two for joy,
    Three for a girl,
    Four for a boy,
    Five for silver,
    Six for gold,
    Seven for a secret,
    Never to be told.
    Eight for a wish,
    Nine for a kiss,
    Ten for a bird,
    You must not miss.

    We always looked for “two for joy.”

  12. Awesome post…. love the video and how the title might make us think differently 😋 thanks for sharing that list of collective nouns for group of animals, BTW. Very useful…. love and best wishes dear Laurie 💛☀️

    • Aquileana — I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I’ve been having fun working my way through some of the older posts on your blog and enjoying them immensely. I have to use an online translator for some of them and that makes it all the more fun 🙂

  13. Fun title and attention catcher! Crows are known to be very smart. Take caution though, it’s said they can recognize faces. Hopefully, they are not worried about you witnessing the murder.

    I have seen a hedge (or sedge, or siege) of herons … absolutely thrilling!
    And, as I’ve posted on Facebook, I’ve also had a family of cranes prancing down the road in front of my home: 2 adult cranes and a at least 3 colts (young cranes). A flock of cranes is referred to by at least a couple of names; herd or dance! I favor Dance. When they walk there is a definite grace to it.

    • Audrey — I’ve learned so much from readers’ comments today, and your comment continues my education in collective nouns for various animals and birds: HEDGE for herons, AND DANCE of cranes. Thank you for adding to the list 🙂

  14. I am wearing a pajama shirt that features an “unkindness” of ravens flying around a tree. When I bought the shirt I mistakenly thought it said “Kindness”. So now it’s pajamas. 😀

  15. Hi Laurie

    I have a pair of dogs beside me.
    Any time I look out the kitchen window I see flocks of seabirds and schools of fish in the ocean below.
    A herd of cows is in the paddock across the road.

    Very rarely are we short of animal life around here.

  16. I’m really excited to tell you this Laurie . The last group of animals I saw was seven King Charles puppies 🐶 and we are having one 😊 His name is Arthur and we pick him up on the 23rd of Dec . Best Christmas present ever .

  17. The fans at the Seahawks football game on Sunday. 🙂 My goodness! I couldn’t believe that accumulation of crows you caught on your camera! I’ve never seen such a sight before!

    • Jan — Seahawks fans — that’s good! And those crows were right up, overhead, in the tree that’s in the neighbor’s yard closest to the fence with the heart that you painstakingly sculpt.

  18. My neighbor’s plum tree bare of leaf this cold frosty morning but full to the brim with Chickadees. They are so fun to watch.
    Great list and reminder about groups. We have young homeless singles and now Anarchists taking over our downtown and threatening the business owners….I do not know what one calls such a huge group – Bullies and trouble. Now a District Circuit Judge says yes! those tents are their home, they can not be kicked off the city streets or city owned parking lots….Over 300 tents this morning. Police can not do anything. This is weighing on my mind – walking was good

  19. A Murder of Crows seems unfair to them somehow, although I admit when a horde of them show up in one of our trees, the racket they make is quite disconcerting. But I know they are quite intelligent creatures.
    One year my guy and I hiked on one of our favorite wooded trails on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County. The silence was golden, the smell sublime, but suddenly after about an hour’s hike, we heard ahead of us a gaggle of what must have been thousands of geese. We were amazed – geese up in the mountain? When we rounded the corner, we came upon the Mt. Tam “Mountain Theater” – an open air theater that produces a musical every year. The sound of geese was, instead, of hundreds of humans, talking. It was eye-opening!

  20. Swans, geese, and ducks, flying south for the winter … huge flocks of them overnight and/or spend a few days on our lake, then off they go again. 😀 … it’s quite a sight.

  21. Hahahahaha, you had me for a moment there Laurie!!! Just yesterday I saw more pigeons in one area than I have ever seen, all in a shopping mall parking lot hoping for handouts. Sometimes I’ll buy a loaf of bread to feed a flock.

  22. Oh Laurie, I loved this post! What a great gathering…um…murder of crows. I only saw a group as large as yours, once…on a house lot that had been torn down and then was in the process of reconstruction. The murder of crows was on the leftover pile of dirt and they sounded a bit like yours. I imagined they were lamenting losing another piece of history in our town to progress. We have a murder of about five or six that fly about our neighborhood. I enjoy them when they pass by overhead. It’s great you were able to capture such a wonderful sight and sound on video.

    • TimelessLady — I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I loved reading your description of the murder of crows you saw on a pile of reconstruction dirt, and the potential backstory that they were mourning losing yet another piece of history in their town.

      • They certainly sounded sad…almost like a choir.
        They weren’t cawing, more like a low hum.

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