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. a kit of pigeons flying together. AAAS is a partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. In today's issue of Nature, the team reports that the flight patterns showed a definite hierarchy, with most or all of the birds consistently copying changes in direction by the flock's leaders, which almost always flew in front. But the flock's leadership can change so that even low-ranking birds sometimes get a chance to command. The researchers think this relates to the structure of the birds' brains, in which the left side handles spatial tasks and the right side governs social recognition. Smithsonian Institution. Starlings: chattering, cloud, congregation, murmuration, clattering. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News. or Snipes: walk, whisp. Storks: mustering, phalanx (migrating) Swallows: flight, gulp Continue Vote Now! 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. The findings could help explain group behavior of other animals, such as schooling fish, says evolutionary biologist Iain Couzin of Princeton University. 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. a muster … The fast search works for all the columns. 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. It achieves "a deeper understanding of coordinated control in animal groups," he says. a murmuration of starlings. Plovers: congregation, stand, wing. Below is a 3 column fast-sorting table of collective nouns with a related noun and link to the main category. Advertising Notice Why do birds in flight suddenly stop to rest on a certain stretch of telephone wire? Thanks! 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. Birders who underst… 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. Perhaps the individuals in the flocks stand a better chance of survival if they sometimes participate in guiding the group rather than constantly submitting to a single leader, she says. She says the team next plans to study flock members in greater depth, including their genders, ages, navigational experiences, to determine "what airborne leaders are made of.". To find some of the answers, researchers exploited a bit of 21st century technology. © 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. But what exactly are they seeing? "We identified a clear hierarchical structure within the decision-making process." 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. Another curiosity was that the lower-ranking birds most often flew behind and to the right of the leaders. However, the data also revealed that the leaders weren't always the same, even within a single flight. Sandpipers: fling. Please send an email to suggest a collective noun. Ravens: congress, unkindness. On a good day in the field, a birder might see a raft, a band, a host, a chime, and even a kettle. All rights Reserved. Some terms that were listed as commonly used were "herd", "flock", "school", and "swarm". The researchers tracked each bird's directional changes and how often those changes either followed or were copied by its flockmates. It's possible that this type of group decision-making is more accurate or beneficial than others, says zoologist and co-author Dora Biro of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Sparrows: host, meinie, tribe. 8, 2010 , 5:20 PM That flock of pigeons flying overhead may look like a chaotic cloud of birds… kit. Cookie Policy Terms of Use Different birds have different collective nouns to describe large groups, and while many of the terms are obsolete, seldom used, or just plain silly, they are still familiar to birders. Privacy Statement Which ones are your favorites? Flocks of birds are one of the most common sights in everyday life, but many aspects of the animals' behavior remain poorly understood. 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What would you call a flock of flamingos, a swarm of swallows, or a group of eagles? PIGEONS 7. Then they sent as many as 10 members of the flock out on 15 test flights. And this sophisticated study reveals the link between the birds' brain hemispheres and how they gather information during their flights. Why, for example, do flocks suddenly change directions and then change directions again within a few seconds? … 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. California Do Not Sell My Info Quails: bevy, covey, drift. That flock of pigeons flying overhead may look like a chaotic cloud of birds, but it's more like an airborne hierarchy. When Pigeons Flock, Who's in Command? Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Enjoy! 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. Used in a sentence, you could say "Look at the flight of pigeons", where "flight" is the collective noun that means group. We have identified the following word(s) that you could call a group of pigeons: flight. flock. Can't find what you're looking for? Give a Gift. There's a "fascinating balance" between democratic and hierarchical control in the pigeon flocks, he says. 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. Pigeons: kit. By Phil Berardelli Apr. Rooks: building, parliament. a head of pheasants. Many flock names are descriptive not only of the group of birds but also of their behavior or personalities. 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Generic collective nouns such as “flock fleet,” or “dissimulation” can apply to all bird species; however, there are more distinctive terms used for groups of specific types of birds that often are a reflection of the bird’s personality and/or behavior. a herd of cranes, curlew or wrens. A team lead by statistical physicist Tamás Vicsek of Eötvös University in Hungary outfitted a trained flock of 13 homing pigeons with tiny GPS receivers that could determine each individual bird's position every 0.2 seconds.

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