A charm of goldfinches

While checking goldfinch facts to go with DKG’s pictures last week, we discovered, to our delight, that the collective noun for goldfinches is  a charm. How charming is that?

A little research revealed that the family of magpies that hang out in Lambrok Meadow are officially a mischief, though they behave like the Mafia; the collar doves in the woods are a bevy, and the owls, if they stay, will be a parliament. We all know that geese gaggle but who knew that ravens gather in conspiracies?

Many of these nouns were first recorded in the 15th Century and have remained pretty much unchanged ever since. They usually reflect some aspect of the birds appearance or behaviour: a scold of jays, a blush of robins or a clamour of rooks.

Some seem particularly apt: a confusion of chiffchaffs is just right and a group of lapwings, whose broken wing trick David C. wrote about yesterday, is called a deceit.

Header picture by Suzanne Humphries

More birds:


4 thoughts on “A charm of goldfinches

  1. I love the confusion of chiffchaffs, like they can’t make up their mind whether they are singing chiff or chaff.

  2. It seems people have had an affinity with birds throughout history! When I see a group of gold finches flying across open ground from one group of trees to another, I imagine their undulating flight pattern as notes on a page of music – a melody of gold finches perhaps?

    1. That’s lovely! All sorts of people (not just Vaughn Williams) wrote music inspired by birdsong but I can’t think of any inspired by a bird’s flight pattern.

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