Gaggles, Herds, and Skeins

I’ve noticed a lot of geese lately, flying in the air, and hanging out in the river.  So I decided to google geese, and see what was interesting about them  Well, the collective nouns for them are just weird!  We all know about gaggles, and while herd brings to mind  hooved animals, at least it’s about animals.  But, skeins?!  That’s how you buy yarn, nothing to do with geese.  So now, my interest is caught, and I have to see what other strange animal words I can find.

So, I  think about what sort of critters I see when running in the woods. Beavers live in colonies or families, ok.  Butterflies are part of a flight or a flutter.  That makes sense, too.  I’ve seen turkey buzzards, and buzzards collect in wakes.  That really makes me think that they are sitting around waiting for us to die and provide lunch!  Caterpillars are part of an army, that’s one slow moving military.  And the crows flying along  the  railbed would be part of a murder, horde, parcel or storytelling(?).  Doves are even worse:  a dule, bevy, cote, dole, paddling, pitying, or piteousness.  English is surely a strange language.

Like the caterpillars, frogs are part of an army, colony, or knot.  And hawks can be part of a kettle, cast, or boil.

Who thinks these up??  The collective noun for lizards is lounge…we know where that one goes! The cute little mice are part of a mischief and mosquitoes are a scourge (got that one right). Salamanders are part of a congress (that one really makes you think). Squirrels are part of a dray, or a scurry.  And starlings belong to a murmuration, or a chattering.I often see wild turkeys in the woods, and they are part of a rafter, gang, or posse. Snakes can be part of  a den, nest, pit, bed, or knot.  Although I’ve never seen snakes in groups, only basking alone in the sun.

Now I’m on a mission.  I want to see a flange of baboons, a sute of bloodhounds, a convocation of eagles,  a memory of elephants, and an implausibility of gnus.  Probably not going to see any of those at the dam, though.  This is why some days I can’t even answer a question about forms or weapons for my students:  my brain is too full of this other clutter.  I guess that’s what happens when you run alone without an ipod or GPS to entertain you!!

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