Q&A: Why are groups of crows called 'murders?'

Published April 24, 2013

Why is a group of crows called a "murder" instead of a flock?

Officially, a group of crows is a flock and the word "murder" is a poetic term used in literature that originated in England in the 15th century, according to various sources. The website for the PBS documentary called A Murder of Crows states there are "different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions."

One states that crows often will come together and "decide the capital fate of another crow." Another possible origin comes from people who view the "appearance of crows as an omen of death." Also, the phrase "murder of crows" comes from a time in history when groups of animals were described in different ways, according to the documentary's website.

James Lipton, the creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio, wrote a book called An Exaltation of Larks, which is described as a "classic collection of collective nouns" that includes more than 1,100 "resurrected or newly minted contributions." In addition to murder of crows, it includes poetic terms such as an ostentation of peacocks, a smack of jellyfish, a parliament of owls and a skulk of foxes.

Kevin J. McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology wrote on his website that no scientist would call it a murder of crows. "Scientists would call it a flock," he wrote.

Limit information after wreck

A recent article stated that you only need to exchange your name, the name of your insurance company and the agent's name after an auto accident, and that for security reasons, you shouldn't exchange your driver's license number or home address. What information should be exchanged with the other driver in case of an auto accident?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends sharing only your name, accurate vehicle information (make, model, year, etc.) and phone number of your insurance provider with the other driver involved in an auto accident. Drivers who share personal information, such as home or cellphone numbers, home addresses and driver's license numbers put themselves, "their property and their safety at risk," it states at "In fact, sharing personal phone numbers is not necessary."

The NAIC recommends calling law enforcement officials so that an accident report can be filed, which "can help facilitate the insurance claims process." The NAIC has created the "WreckCheck" app for iPhone and Android users that "outlines what to do immediately following an auto accident and takes users through a step-by-step process to create their own accident report." More information about the app can be found at