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Posts tagged ‘birds’

A rhumba of rattlesnakes? The idiosyncratic world of animal & bird group names

Because I love to write, I love words. I love putting words together to form thoughts or a story, but sometimes I love words in and of themselves, just enjoying how they look and sound. Words like cacophony, plethora and gallivant have a quaint look and rhythm all their own, making them fun to say as well as making me appear well spoken when I can actually use them in the proper context. That may be a bit pretentious though, don’t you think? Do I want to be one of those people trying to impress others with my extensive and unique vocabulary? Well, obviously I am not the only one who wishes to be noticed by using interesting words. I recently discovered a list of group names of various animals & birds, and I’d have to say that the biologists or ornithologists or whoever appointed themselves to the task of naming these groups must have been either drunk or trying to impress fellow colleagues as they came up with some rather peculiar pairings.

As I read through the list, I realized how clever some of the names are. I could certainly attest to a prickle of porcupines, a shiver of sharks (and they do make me shiver!), a quiver of cobras (another creature that yes, makes me quiver!), and a tower of giraffes. There are some group names that imply a character trait: an implausibility of gnus, a mischief of mice (and isn’t that one so very true?), a wisdom of wombats (who knew they were wise?), and a pitying of turtle doves. I found that some groups were named on the basis of their actions: a leap of leopards, a lounge of lizards, a romp of otters, a cackle of hyenas, and a crash of rhinoceroses. But the ones I enjoyed the most were the totally off the wall labels that had to have been chosen by those in a mind-altered state, or perhaps on a dare, or maybe just for the hell of it, because they could! : a kettle of vultures, a consortium of octopuses, a charm of hummingbirds, a bloat of hippopotamuses, and my personal favorite, a murder of crows.

I am envious of those who were given permission to label the creatures of the earth and their groups with such creative license.  So the next time you go to the zoo, remember the zeal of zebras, the streak of tigers, and the coalition of cheetahs, and say “thank you” to those who sprinkled a bit of levity into the animal kingdom.

A flamboyance of flamingos

A barrel of monkeys

A flock of seagulls
(also the name of a popular 80’s musical group)

Some call them pigeons, I call them doves

I feel a kinship with these birds, the ones so many proclaim as “dirty”, my avian friends that seem to love the city life as much as I do. Most people call them pigeons, but I prefer to call them by the more lovely nom de plume of doves. The word dove conjures up images of peace and serenity, and this is what they bring to me as I hear them cooing outside my window and up on the roof. They are much shyer than the crows, with their loud and raucous caws, bold enough to walk across my skylight and look in on me. The lovely doves are hesitant about presenting themselves; gingerly stepping onto the skylight almost as if it were a dare. In the early morning I hear them fly about with harried activity, as their wings whistle while they fly from building to building. Sometimes they land on my windowsill for a brief rest, but they are much too introverted to respond to my attempts at conversation. So I listen carefully to their silent message of peace, and rejoice every morning as I wake to their gentle songs.

Shadows of the doves

Their beating wings spreading peace

Cooing songs of love

Messages from nature

So much of our existence here is spent interacting and sharing with other people, that we oftentimes fail to catch a glimpse of the messages of nature. Nature is wise, and calls to us. Once we can slow down enough to connect in that realm, and bask in the quiet required to go beyond our physical senses, there is much we can learn as we find ourselves able to translate nature’s language.

Living For the Moment

 

My flowers live in each moment

They don’t reminisce

About time spent as a seed

Or worry about the past

Did I grow enough?

Did I take too much water for myself?

Did I not bathe in the sunlight long enough?

They learn to grow and move on

To blossom and show their beauty

Not steeping themselves in what has passed

Otherwise, we could never delight

In the beautiful blooms that they become

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