BTO What do you call a group of Robins?


This page contains 8 reader comments. Click here to view (latest Mon 28/02/11 15:18).

The BTO's recent reporting of unusual gatherings of Robins in gardens prompted the search for a collective noun for Britain's national bird. Of the 241 suggested nouns that were received by the BTO and Sunday Express, 'round' was the most popular, with 'breast' a close second.

The top ten suggestions received were:

  • Round
  • Breast
  • Blush
  • Rabble
  • Bobbin
  • Red
  • Squabble
  • Rash
  • Hood
  • Riot
  • Reliant

Robins are generally highly territorial throughout the year and are often seen posturing to each other and even fighting to the death. However, severe winter weather pacifies their mood with individuals becoming much more congenial.

It was this photograph of six Robins using a bird table that prompted the media campaign through the Sunday Express to find a collective noun for this familiar bird (photo: Clwyd Roberts).

Behind this initiative is some quality "citizen science". Records collected by householders as part of the BTO's Garden BirdWatch show that following the winter's freezing conditions, when the average number of Robins in gardens soared, numbers have remained relatively high in gardens as the inclement weather persists.

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The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (8)

I recently heard the group of Nothern Long-tailed Tits in Dymchurch referred to as a 'Bounce' of tits - and no it wasn't Andy Gray standing next to me at the time! Is there a book/ record of recognised collective nouns of birds out there?
   Adam Whitehouse, 07/02/11 17:56Report inappropriate post Report 
I (and BTO) don't think there's an official list as such, but Googling "collective noun bird" will give you a few to choose from.
   Mark Grantham, 08/02/11 11:16Report inappropriate post Report 
There is Steve Palin's "A Dissimulation of Birds", published by Minerva Press in 1998. I don't know if it's still in print or not, but it contains some beautiful paintings of birds with their associated collective nouns. Robins don't feature, though dissimulation can be used collectively for any small birds.
   Simon Edwards, 08/02/11 22:39Report inappropriate post Report 
Thanks Mark and Simon, I'll try to track down a copy of Steve Palin's book. Adam
   Adam Whitehouse, 09/02/11 20:58Report inappropriate post Report 
Some group names here http://www.see-paynton.co.uk/gallery.php?gallery=9
   Andrew, 10/02/11 23:50Report inappropriate post Report 
I think I would have gone for a "surprise" of robins. I've never seen more than 3 adults at once and usually one is chasing others away.
   Richard Banks, 12/02/11 13:47Report inappropriate post Report 
My wife and I saw four together in our garden at the coldest time, they were behaving peaceably, and from the way they moved, we reckoned there were two pairs.Large numbers are so unusual I thought of calling this a quartet, but now Ive seen the photo above, I'm inclined to call it a thrill of robins!
   Ken Payne, 28/02/11 15:14Report inappropriate post Report 
the website "nzbirds.com" quotes a worm of robins.
   Ken Payne, 28/02/11 15:18Report inappropriate post Report 

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