Murmuration: The collective noun for a flock of starlings. Attributed since about 1450, “one of many alleged group terms found in late Middle English glossarial sources, but not otherwise substantiated” (OED). Revived and popularized in the 20th century.
European starlings are regarded as pests in the US, but it’s hard not to be awestruck by their flocking behavior, which is no less magnificent for its being a survival function. In this video, which went viral last week, British artists Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith capture a murmuration during their canoe trip on the River Shannon in Ireland. Watch:
A list of collective nouns for birds, from the Palomar Audubon Society in Escondido, California.
UPDATE: Read a post about murmuration at Sesquiotica, a fine blog about “words, words words.”