As you may know, I have a soft spot for imaginative collective nouns, and although I’d come across ‘parliament’ for owls, and love the whooshing flight and sigh of murmurations of starlings, the woodpeckers and the lapwings were new to me.  I also like the suggested reason for these quirky collective terms.  

A parliament of owls – always thought of as wise, their assembling together would suggest an intellectual conference.

A descent of woodpeckers – this name possibly comes from seeing them drop down from great heights onto ants.

A deceit of lapwings – this endangered bird was once perceived to be dishonest and cunning as they would feign injury when threatened.

With thanks to the National Trust for these insights and for photos of the birds concerned, and those swooping murmurations.

Photo credit: Zdeněk Macháček at unsplash


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