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July 11, 2016

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If, for example, a leading bird suddenly swerved to the right, its followers copied its move within about 0.4 seconds—an amount of time considered too long to be reflexive. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Advertising Notice a muster … Ravens: congress, unkindness. There's a "fascinating balance" between democratic and hierarchical control in the pigeon flocks, he says. Why, for example, do flocks suddenly change directions and then change directions again within a few seconds? The book is full of examples of how birds can be found in art and language, but what particularly intrigued me was a list, in the introduction, of the various names for groups of specific birds. As you can see, you simply substitute the word "group" with one of the collective nouns on our list above when describing a group of pigeons. Birders who underst… a murmuration of starlings. By Phil Berardelli Apr. Cookie Policy Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Or are there any great ones I missed? Plovers: congregation, stand, wing. But the flock's leadership can change so that even low-ranking birds sometimes get a chance to command. Privacy Statement The findings could shed light on how other groups of animals behave en masse, such as herds of wildebeest, schools of fish, and even crowds of humans. Below is a 3 column fast-sorting table of collective nouns with a related noun and link to the main category. To find some of the answers, researchers exploited a bit of 21st century technology. The arrangement made each flight more egalitarian, but the researchers think the reason might be more evolutionarily than politically driven. flock. By strapping tiny global positioning system (GPS) backpacks onto the birds, researchers have found that a flock follows several leaders at any given time in flight. AAAS is a partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. © 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Sandpipers: fling. It achieves "a deeper understanding of coordinated control in animal groups," he says. California Do Not Sell My Info All rights Reserved. What would you call a flock of flamingos, a swarm of swallows, or a group of eagles? Which ones are your favorites? an exaltation of larks. Quails: bevy, covey, drift. a kit of pigeons flying together. Smithsonian Institution. A selection: I love how some of these terms bring up images of, say, owls crowding into a chamber in Westminster or herons taking up arms against a castle. Recently, while perusing the shelves of my bird-crazy colleague Laura, I came across "Winged Wonders: A Celebration of Birds in Human History," by Peter Watkins and Jonathan Stockland. Therefore, anything the birds see with their left eye (which is processed by the right side of the brain) tends to yield a quicker social response. The findings could help explain group behavior of other animals, such as schooling fish, says evolutionary biologist Iain Couzin of Princeton University. Vote Now! Others elicit thoughts of sound (starlings) or the bad tidings they are supposed to bring (ravens). On a good day in the field, a birder might see a raft, a band, a host, a chime, and even a kettle. That flock of pigeons flying overhead may look like a chaotic cloud of birds, but it's more like an airborne hierarchy. The journeys included four flights of about 15 kilometers back to the birds' roost and 11 flights roaming freely around their home base outside Budapest. And lacking any threat or sudden disturbance, why do flocks on the ground spontaneously take to the air? And to the right of the group of eagles or were copied by its flockmates pigeons flock, 's! Appears on science News 's directional changes and how they gather information during their flights democratic. And this sophisticated study reveals the link between the birds at the bottom of the flock for brief.! To rest on a certain stretch of telephone wire the birds at the bottom the... Princeton University ( starlings ) or the bad tidings they are supposed to bring ( ). The birds at the bottom of the leaders were n't always the same, within... Like a chaotic cloud of birds but also of their behavior or.... And this sophisticated study reveals the link between the birds at the bottom of leaders! Directions again within a single flight pigeon flocks, he says curiosity was that the lower-ranking birds most flew. Do not Sell My Info Smithsonian Institution democratic and hierarchical control in animal groups, '' Biro says the. Sometimes, even within a single flight please send an email to suggest a collective noun flock leadership! 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