A CRASH OF RHINOCEROSES
We were crushed by a crash of rhinoceroses.
A SCHOOL OF FISH
What do you learn from a school of fish?
A LITTER OF PUPS
Can dogs be arrested for littering?
A FLOCK OF SHEEP
Could a route of wolves eat a flock of sheep?
A STRING OF PONIES
Is a string of ponies the same as a remuda line?
A COVEY OF PARTRIDGES
A covey of partridges nested in my pear grove.
A PRIDE OF LIONS
A pride of lions raced against a leap of leopards. Is pride
the same as ego?
A HERD OF ELEPHANTS
If a shepherd tends a flock of sheep, what would you call the person
who tends a herd of elephants?
A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
Locusts are a plague upon the land. A plague of locusts will eat every crop it can find.
A COLONY OF ANTS
It is too bad that a colony of humans cannot work together like
a colony of ants. Ants work together toward a common goal all the time; people only do it in times of strife.
A COVEY OF QUAIL
Falconers send their dogs into the field to bark
and cause the nearby covey of quail (or partridges) to take flight.
A KINDLE OF KITTENS
We used to think that a group of baby cats was called a litter.
Now we know that a kindle of kittens is more poetic than a litter.
A LEAP OF LEOPARDS
I think the leap of leopards won the race against the pride of lions.
A POD OF SEALS
Recently a National Geographic video showed a pod of
seals teasing a group of iguanas. We will have to do some research to find out what a group of iguanas is called.
A SLOTH OF BEARS
Sloth is one of the seven major sins.
One wonders, then, whether a sloth of bears is lazy.
A RAFTER OF TURKEYS
Large rafters of turkeys have been known to drown by standing out in
the rain, looking up at it, with their mouths open. They would have
been better off had they perched in the rafters of the barn!
A PACE OF ASSES
Wilderness tour guides often maintain a pace of asses
to carry the equipment necessary for camping.
A WALK OF SNIPE
I think a walk of snipe would walk around, since some
kinds of snipe are nocturnal. They are mostly marsh and meadow
birds, which usually hunt by walking. Logically, then, a group of parrots
would be called a "talk!" More research.
A GAM OF WHALES
A gam of whales migrates to breeding lagoons every season.
A NEST OF RABBITS
There is a nest of rabbits up in the loft.
A GANG OF ELKS
What colors would a gang of elks display? Is a gang of elks dangerous?
AN EXALTATION OF LARKS
One can't help but be elated by an exaltation of larks.
A DROVE OF CATTLE
Real working cowboys, who are hired to take a drove
of cattle to market, have a very difficult and strenuous job.
That maybe why those cowboys are called "drovers."
A SINGULAR OF BOARS
A singular of boars can really tear up a forest glade.
A TIDINGS OF MAGPIES
A tidings of magpies is a real joy to observe. These birds are actually
crows with all the options. They talk all the time, and they're beautiful.
Their group might be called a "tidings" because the individuals have so
much to say!
A GAGGLE OF GEESE
When a gaggle of geese overflys the area, you can hear
their clatter. Do you know why the "V-formation" in
which the gaggle of geese fly is always longer on one side than
it is on the other? It is because there are more birds on one
side. That is a pretty dumb joke. Probably was told by a goose.
A CONGREGATION OF PLOVERS
A congregation of plovers is nesting in the field behind the church.
A HUSK OF HARES
One wonders if a husk of hares is the same as a nest of rabbits.
After all, rabbits are hares. The encyclopedia just told us that the family Leporidae includes rabbits,
but true hares are not the same as rabbits. More research.
AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS
Edgar Allan Poe had difficulty with one raven who said, "Nevermore."
What do we think an unkindness of ravens would have said to him?
A LABOR OF MOLES
My vegetable garden was destroyed by a labor of moles.
A RICHNESS OF MARTENS
When fur coats were popular, a richness of martens would have to be
sacrificed to make one coat.
A CAST OF HAWKS
The rodent population would be much larger if not for a cast of hawks
preying upon the field mice, voles, moles, and other small mammals running
in the wild.
A KNOT OF TOADS
AN ARMY OF FROGS
Frogs and Toads are so cute! A knot of toads or an army of
frogs in the garden is a
pleasure to see, and it feels like a compliment to the
A DESCENT OF WOODPECKERS
Insects that harm trees are often prey for a descent of woodpeckers,
which, in turn benefits the birds that nest in the saved tree.
A SOUNDER OF SWINE
Hog farmers would be surprised to know that they are raising a sounder
A MUSTERING OF STORK
Villagers in the Netherlands are glad to have a mustering of
stork visit them. It is thought to be good luck.
A CLUTCH OF EGGS
In the wild, a falcon will lay a clutch of only two eggs per season.
In captivity, the breeder allows only one egg to stay in the falcon's nest, and the falcon will lay
a clutch of 12 to 15 eggs per season.
A BOUQUET OF PHEASANTS
It is a beautiful sight to watch a bouquet of pheasants fly from their
nesting area, straight up into the sky.
AN ARMY OF CATERPILLARS
It seems really nasty to have an army of caterpillars infest a
fruit tree. One wonders what good purpose caterpillars serve, if any.
A HOVER OF TROUT
Every fisherman hopes that a hover of trout will swim to his or her
A FLIGHT OF SWALLOWS
The residents of Capistrano need to wash their cars after the annual
flight of swallows returns!
A FALL OF WOODCOCKS
Often when people hunt for snipe, they come upon a fall of woodcocks,
which are also game birds.
A DULE OF DOVES
In a former residence, your writer had an atrium containing a duel of
doves numbering 22.
A SKULK OF FOXES
When hunters ride to hounds (as it's called), they hope
for a skulk of foxes. Interestingly, a group of vermin is called
a skulk, as is a group of thieves!
A DISSIMULATION OF BIRDS
There are some kinds of birds that fly around with birds
of families not their own. During a warm summer evening, one
is likely to observe a dissimulation of birds
A SPRING OF TEAL
Teals are beautiful river ducks, primarily turquoise in color.
If you sit beside the river long enough, you may see a spring of teal swim past.
A PEEP OF CHICKENS
Chickens are marvelous pets. Anybody who has a peep of chickens has an opportunity for some interesting observations
and great omelet material.
A BEVY OF ROEBUCKS
One who lives in the area of the Ural Mountains has a possibility
of observing a bevy of roebucks. They might be fighting. Roe deer
are small, Eurasian deer, and, of course, the bucks are the males.
A BUSINESS OF FERRETS or A FESNYNG OF FERRETS
Ferrets are darling! A business (or fesnying)
of ferrets can trash your house in a very short time. They are so nosy,
and busy, they get into everything. In California, it is against the
law to have pet ferrets.
** The term "fesnyng" was seen in
a newspaper article. However, it does not appear in any of my dictionaries or encyclopedias.
A BALE OF TURTLES
It is okay to have a bale of turtles for pets, but they must be free
of salmonella bacteria.
A PITYING OF TURTLEDOVES
A pitying of turtledoves, cooing in concert, could qualify as funeral
singers. Turtledoves are the birds we know as mourning doves. Their
song inspired Chopin's Funeral March.
A DRIFT OF HOGS
When French people want truffles, they take a drift of hogs into the
oak forests to locate and dig for them.
A PADDLING OF DUCKS
It is plain to see why a paddling of ducks is so named; that's their form of aquatic locomotion. I wonder if a
group of ducks out of water would be called a "waddling"
A SIEGE OF HERONS
In Oregon's Lake Oswego, there is a cove called "Blue Heron Bay."
A siege of herons lives therein. The only way to observe them is to get up about 4:30 a.m., hop in your
canoe, paddle to Blue Heron Bay, and sit quietly. When the herons begin the day, they are very busy, and most beautiful.
A TRIP OF GOATS
Slightly north of Modesto, there is a dairy with a very large trip of
A CHARM OF FINCHES
Finches are cute little birds. An aviary with a charm of finches would be fun to have.
A CETE OF BADGERS
Forests are benefited by harboring a cete of badgers, who burrow in
the soil, thereby aerating it, which helps root systems to grow
through the soil. Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers.
A DECEIT OF LAPWINGS
A deceit of lapwings, with their beautiful crests, would make a pretty
dish to set before the king.
A SHOAL OF BASS
However, if you prefer fish, a shoal of bass would feed a big crowd
and would be less work than making lapwing pies.
A TROOP OF KANGAROOS
When a troop of kangaroos leaps through your garden, you find that all
your plants are broken, just in time for that down of hares, that nest
of rabbits, and that husk of hares that have been watching the lettuce
A CLOWDER OF CATS
There is a clowder of cats stalking a murmuration of starlings.
Frankly, I hope the cats succeed.
A WATCH OF NIGHTINGALES
When a watch of nightingales is at the height of breeding season, the
males serenade their prospective brides with one of the most glorious
and celebrated bird songs there is.
A BARREN OF MULES
One of the Grand Canyon tour guides has a barren of
mules for the tourists to ride down into the Canyon. It is said
that mules are more sure-footed than horses.
A SHREWDNESS OF APES
National Geographic videos include several tapes dealing
with a shrewdness of apes that dwells in Zaire.
A RAG OF COLTS
I don't think the Indianapolis football team players
would like it if they were referred to as a "rag" of Colts!
A MURMURATION OF STARLINGS
When a murmuration of starlings enters a holly grove,
it ruins the entire crop. Their droppings are very acidic, and
the plants are defoliated after the starlings are there. Amurmuration of starlings often would amount to a thousand
or so of those beautiful, destructive birds.
A BUILDING OF ROOKS
A building of rooks is the same as a flock of crows. There is a chess piece that is called a "rook",
but it does not refer to the bird of the same name.
A SMACK OF JELLYFISH
A smack of jellyfish floats along, eating plankton and
A HARRAS OF HORSES
Hunt clubs board a harras of horses that must be fed,
groomed, and exercised each day.
A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS
Many growers harbor a parliament of owls in their barns
so as to keep down the population of burrowing rodents.
A ROUTE OF WOLVES
One does not want to get lost in the Arctic, for fear
that aroute of wolves may attack.
A HOST OF SPARROWS
A large host of sparrows can be almost as destructive
as amurmuration of starlings.
AN OSTENTATION OF PEACOCKS
Peacocks are so exotic in their appearance; referring to them collectively as an ostentation seems appropriate.
A MUSTER OF PEACOCKS
A muster of peacocks usually has free run of the countryside
where it lives.
A BLESSING OF UNICORNS
It is said that unicorns derive from people's misperceptions
of the Oryx. Nevertheless, the concept of unicorns is so mystical that a blessing of unicorns would be welcome
in Ogden Nash's garden.
A COVERT OF COOTS
Oregon's Lake Oswego is drained each year, usually in
February, so that residents can repair their retaining walls, diving
boards, boathouses, and the like. When the lake is empty, it is just
one huge plot of mud. Like magic, a covert of coots arrives to feed on whatever there is in the
A NIDE OF PHEASANTS
We must be careful when mowing a meadow, as a nide of pheasants may
be in the tall grasses, brooding their young.
A SKEIN OF WILDFOWL
The pilgrims rejoiced when they located a skein of wild
fowl for their thanksgiving tables.
A SORD OF MALLARDS
Lake Oswego was home to a sord of mallards who would
fly south during January and February, and return in March for breeding.
Then, in April, there would be all these duck parents swimming around with their flotillas of ducklings. Your
writer had a pair of mallards and a flock of chickens. The mallard hen
suddenly was in hiding, and when we found her, she was sitting
on 8 eggs. The eggs hatched, and she had 6 ducklings and 2 chicks!
We called them "chucks." The chucks even swam in the ducks' pond!
A SWARM OF INSECTS
It is very uncomfortable to be outside and suddenly
come upon a swarm of wasps!
A BED OF CLAMS
What a thrill to travel to Long Beach, Washington, at
low tide, and locate a bed of razor clams! The limit is 36,
and that number of razor clams will make a nice entree
for 12 people.
A CHARM OF GOLDFINCHES
Often in early Spring, the birch trees will become a
dining spot for a charm of goldfinches.
A CRY OF HOUNDS
Hunt clubs often maintain a cry of hounds, trained to hunt foxes.
A GRIST OF BEES
Growers of fruits and nuts usually rent a grist of bees
to pollinate their trees.
A HORDE OF GNATS
It is miserable to be outside on the patio enjoying
a warm summer evening, when suddenly a horde of gnats invades our territory.
A LEASH OF GREYHOUNDS
Many people gamble away their rent and grocery money
just to take a chance on a leash of greyhounds chasing a mechanical rabbit.
A MURDER OF CROWS
A tidings of magpies is a more colorful sight than a murder of crows.
A SLEUTH OF BEARS
I doubt that a sleuth of bears is the same as a company
A SPAN OF MULES
I think that a span of mules constitutes as few as two
mules and as many as can be tied together in one team.
A VOLERY OF BIRDS
Your writer had a volery of birds in a large aviary
in the back yard. It included chickens, ducks, pigeons, doves,
A YOKE OF OXEN
Oxen are wonderful beasts! We have all seen videos showing a yoke of
oxen plowing a rice paddy or hauling a dray. Oxen plod along so slowly, but never seem to be tired.
A BANK or BEVY of SWANS
There is a bank (or a bevy) of swans on the shore of the lake.
A WEDGE or SOWNDER of SWANS
There is a wedge (or a sownder) of swans flying north for the spring breeding season.
A LAMENTATION of SWANS
A lamentation of swans is swimming on the lake, some are on the shore, and others are flying.
FLOCK is applied to a congregation of animals of one kind, as well as to a group of people under the
leadership of one person, especially the members of a church.
HERD is used of a number of animals herded by men or of such wild animals as antelope, zebras, whales,
and seals. It also suggests the gregarious aspect of crowd psychology.
DROVE is used of a group of animals (or people) that are being moved or driven from one place to another.
PACK is applicable to any group of animals, especially wolves, grouse and hounds trained to hunt
as a unit. It also refers to a gang of persons engaged in violent
or criminal activities.
BEVY is used of a company of girls, larks, or quail.
BROOD applies to offspring that are still under the care of a mother. The collective terms for
individual species have been collected from various reference
sources and encyclopedias. This writer composed the sentences beneath
each entry. If anybody knows additional collective terms, please send
an e-mail to me. If I have your name, it will be posted along side of your
The meaning of multitudes
MILKING THE ELUSIVE COCONUT
Thank you for your question. Not many people are smart enough to ask if "the coconut is like
a cow or a goat."
The coconut is a rather large animal, referred by the captain of the USS Enterprise space vessel as "Dribble". It is rather round, about the size of a human baby's head, and has brown fur which is somewhat rough in texture, but pretty; and, after all, it does keep it warm. The coconut has a sweet face, with two eyes and a mouth. They are arboreal creatures, and always live up high in trees that have no foliage for the first 25 feet, and have fan-like foliage at the tops, or they live on the ground beneath those strange and ugly trees. They can't run but they can roll like nothin' you've ever seen. They are shy beings, and don't have much to say.
Milking them seems rather brutal. You need a phillips head screwdriver and a stout hammer. Place the coconut in a vise, with its sweet little face looking up at you. Poise the screwdriver on one of its cute little eyes, and strike the handle of the screwdriver with the business end of the hammer. You have to hit it pretty hard. If you do it correctly, you will hear it squish and the screwdriver will go into the coconut's brain. Withdraw the screwdriver, and poise it above the other eye ("jeepers, creepers, where'd ya get those peepers?") and slam it with the hammer again. Gently remove the coconut from the clutches of the vise and carry it to the kitchen.
[Most of us do not have vises in our kitchens - they are normally used in the garage workshop
area.] [The thing we have in our kitchens is a "vice" which means an addiction to something, for example, food.]
Holding the coconut over a bowl, turn it so that its sweet little face is toward the bowl. Tip it, so that the milk within can pour out of one eye socket, while the other eye socket admits an equal amount of air (equal to the amount of milk that comes out). At the point at which the coconut has been milked to its capacity, your trusty hammer can give it a few more love pats and the
flesh of the coconut is revealed. With a prying instrument (a small tire iron will do), the lovely white flesh can be separated from the coconut's furry pelt, whereupon it can be grated.
If, on the other hand, you, in the manner of a Buddhist, are averse to causing injury to living creatures, you can buy coconut milk in cans at the grocery store in the Asian section. For our gatherings, about twice each year, we serve Rijstaffel (as you know), which requires a great amount of coconut milk. Joanne found 96 oz cans of it and bought 3. The first one I opened appeared to have a little rather hard substance at the top. Rather hard - sheesh - it was very hard. I had to get a small crow-bar to pry it loose from the inside of the can. With the
assistance of my immense partner, the can was emptied into a large pot. The "crust" was actually four inches thick. It melted nicely with heat, and it proved to me that coconut milk is extremely fat-laden, and it is no wonder that it was capable of nourishing those few humans who were not cannibals and were able to break them. I had always believed that the herbivorous humans had died at the hands of cannibals, but perhaps the coconuts took their revenge by issuing mass quantities of bad cholesterol.