Sunday, November 13, 2011


Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyses us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives. Our problem is not to be rid of fear but, rather to harness and master it.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)minister & civil-rights leader

murmuration is a term for a flock of starlings. i never knew this until the other day when a friend posted an amazing video on facebook - i can't count how many times i've watched it - it is fascinating. the on-line magazine (or would that be an ezine?) wired has an interesting piece about the video and the phenomenon that liberty smith and sophie windsor clive found themselves witnessing.

i find the names for groups of birds most curious and wonderful - most of us know a group of crows is called a murder - but did you know that a group of cranes is called a sedge? so i guess the sculpture above is of a small sedge of cranes.

if you see geese on the ground they are called a gaggle of geese; but when they are flying overhead they are a skein of geese. owls must be the most political of bird species as group of owls is called a parliament of owls. i said fascinating stuff!

do you think the photo below is a sedge of cranes, a siege of herons, or a skein of geese....or something else?

james lipton's book an exaltation of larks (1993) is a delightful anthology of collective nouns for birds and other species - and a virtual goldmine for all us scrabble players and word lovers out here.

photo: top -sculpture entitled cloud chasers by o.k. harris, bottom - birds in flight. rio grande valley state park, albuquerque, new mexico, october 2011


Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I also saw this video recently, perhaps through your facebook wall, and was struck and enthralled by the video. Looking forward to seeing the Wired article.

tut-tut said...

I have/had that book, but darned if I can find it!

Happy Sunday, Mouse.

Lo said...

I saw this video recently and was swept away by it. Your copy is much better than the one I received so thanks for posting it.

I also love the incredible names for flock of birds.....I had never heard "murmuration"......I love that word.

Merle Sneed said...

A bunch of whatever serves me well.

Mel said...

I blogged about this video today too! I get goosebumps every time I watch it. I love love love the part where they look at each other and laugh :)

Once in a nature center, I saw a card game for matching the unusual words to the groups of animals they describe. I always wish I had bought it. Now I will have to go look at James Lipton's book, and the wired article about the video. Thanks for even more awesome over the murmuration!

Colette Amelia said...

How much do I love this photo of the birds? lots and lots!