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Throw-Back-Thursday: Collectively Speaking

(I’m calling it a Throwback Thursday because this first part happened a few years ago and I couldn’t find where I had ever posted about it.)

I like having birds in my yard. Birds are cool and among other things, they eat bugs. I like having the bird feeders in the window and watching them. A lot of sparrows and finches and occasionally other little birds that are more delicate looking and a little harder to identify, not to mention the hummingbirds. Birds are, generally speaking, pretty smart. I couldn’t find where I had ever posted about it but a few years ago I had a Camp-Robber Jay get into the house by a door I had left open.

There he sat on the sill
Very vocally complaining

So I started talking to him in soothing tones, explaining that I wanted to help him get out of the house as much as he wanted to get out. We had a false start and he flew to a different spot. I put on some gloves and told him again that I wanted to help him out, but he would need to let me pick him up. He looked at me suspiciously but relented.

He actually calmed down a lot when I picked him up, but I expected the worst.

After that, he would stop by and visit outside the patio and squawk a bit when I was outside and when I’d greet him he would make a final squawk and fly away. It was cool. It was only just recently that I learned that jays are in the same family as magpies, crows, and ravens which are one of the smartest, if not the smartest, families of. birds. Did you know that one of the collective nouns for jays is a party?

The collective nouns for some of the other birds are interesting, also. I enjoy collective nouns anyway but when I read some of these, it cracks me up, especially if you watch their behavior, even casually. I’m not a real big bird-watcher but they are interesting and can be relaxing.

When we first moved here years ago, we saw this beautifully colored bird and only discovered later that they were scavengers:


A flock of magpies is called a parliament. Many of us have heard that a flock of crows is called a murder. I found out that one of the reasons for this is that if there is one that is sick or doesn’t belong to that flock, the others will kill it. Even though ravens and crows look similar, they are very different and don’t get along. Ravens can be four times as big as crows and their beaks are larger. Their tail-feathers also look different when flying as well as the sounds they make. Ravens seldom flock and usually only go by one or two. On the occasion they do flock, it is an unkindness of ravens.

This morning my daughter said, “There’s a crow building a nest in that tree back there.” Sure enough, that was going on. Well, this seemed okay to me, but then I started to think about it. Jays, magpies, crows, and ravens are all members of the scientific taxonomy, Corvidae. I realize now that I am going to have to go out and count how many of each of these there are. I’ll sit there and count, but I’m not letting their total number go over a dozen-and-a-half. I may have to count out loud, “Corvid 1, corvid 2, corvid 3, etc.” But there’s no way I want to have corvid 19.


21 responses to “Throw-Back-Thursday: Collectively Speaking”

  1. Brothers Campfire Avatar

    Way Cool. I like Birds!

    1. Herb Avatar

      Even corvids?

      1. Brothers Campfire Avatar

        Just the other day, I mearly spoke to a crow as it flew by while going on a walk. I identified him by a missing feather in his left wing and an awkward flight pattern. It has since frequently flown over my yard and caws when it sees me. I have only offered words and the crow appears intrigued. I would say I have a fond admiration for corvids.

        1. Herb Avatar

          Oh, they’re smart. I like them, too. I just don’t want to exceed 18.

            1. Herb Avatar

              That worked out funny. Maybe they should have killed Corvid 19 when they had the chance.

              1. Brothers Campfire Avatar

                I did not grasp the pun. I googled 19 crows and came up with nothing. Then I googled 18 crows and came up with the above link. At no time did I think Covid 19. I suppose I could use additional cawfee to raise my alertness.

                1. Herb Avatar

                  Sorry. It was hysterically funny when it was in my head.

                  1. Brothers Campfire Avatar

                    That was last night! Now it is historically funny! What is funny is for the life of me I did not get it. I thought you were reffering to a poem or something.

  2. Amber Avatar

    Terrible pun sorry.

    1. Herb Avatar

      You’re welcome!

  3.  Avatar

    An interesting posting – something to crow about. Last year for a month in winter I kept a record of numbers and species of birds I saw out my office window. In the month there were 26 different species. But none of the species of course that you mentioned – although there was a different species of magpie.

    1. Herb Avatar

      That might make an interesting post sometime. I’m sure you could create a character to do away with and educate everyone about the birds of NZ at the same time.

  4. Ishaan Sharma Avatar


  5. Lydia Avatar

    Super cool! I would expect the worse too if I touched a bird.

    1. Herb Avatar

      We used to have parakeets and they would bite sometimes if you didn’t handle them right so I just assumed a wild bird would have a similar reaction. I was happily surprised. I think they are smarter than they look.

  6. Andreanna Avatar

    Thanks for the laugh!

    1. Herb Avatar

      Yes ma’am. You are ever so welcome, I am sure.

  7. Dumbestblogger Avatar

    Haha, nice.

    1. Herb Avatar


  8. […] I did an actual Throwback Thursday, except it wasn’t, because I had never written about the bird-in-the-house incident on the blog before. So it kind of was and kind of wasn’t a Throwback Thursday. As I […]

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