For many, a raven represents a terrifying and evil creature. It is a large, black, omnivorous bird with a deep voice and menacing presence.
A group of ravens can send chills down one’s spine, as the image can resemble one from a horror movie.
But aside from their scary appearance, you probably wonder what you call a group of ravens.
A group of ravens has a few common names, such as a conspiracy, a storytelling, and a congress; however, the most popular one is “an unkindness.”
But where does the name come from, and are ravens truly “unkind”?
Keep reading to learn more about these blood-curdling creatures, as well as the origin of their collective group names.
Why is a Group of Ravens Called an Unkindness?
Infamously, these birds are symbols of death and misfortune. Due to their black feathers, sharp beaks, and watchful eyes – many consider ravens to be a bad omen.
The term “unkindness” is used to describe a group of ravens, possibly due to their reputation.
In fact, the origin of the name dates back to the 19th century, when ravens were thought to be uncaring of their young. More specifically, it was believed that a raven would force its baby bird out of the nest before it was ready to fly.
Now we know that ravens are actually caring and devoted parents. Still, at the time – it was easy to judge the bird as evil or unkind (hence the name).
Other Collective Nouns for a Group of Ravens
Unsurprisingly, ravens aren’t the only black birds with a bad reputation. Ravens and crows belong to the same genus, Corvus. Somewhat famously, a group of crows is called a murder.
The trend continues, as unkindness is one of many collective nouns used to identify a group of ravens. Although it is the most common, there are other, more poetic names you can use.
However, other terms aren’t as popular and are slowly being rotated out of use. They include:
A conspiracy or a congress of ravens has an interesting origin, as it comes from a folktale that ravens would gather and judge members of their species. The name remains somewhat applicable today.
As for the storytelling of ravens, there is little information about the origin of the term, but the name is believed to have originated because these birds can pass information to each other.
Why do Ravens Form Groups?
Ravens are intelligent beings whose cognitive skills rival those of a dolphin or a chimpanzee. They are also very social beings and enjoy spending time in gatherings. However, there are other reasons why these sinister birds form groups.
Namely, being a part of the group means safety. Despite having few natural predators, ravens (and most other animals) are most vulnerable when alone.
Forming groups allows them to see danger more quickly, and as a result – they are protected from harm.
On top of that, ravens are taught to share from an early age when their parents bring food for their young. Living in groups means that sources of food are more consistent, as ravens share their meals with each other.
Another interesting fact is that ravens mate for life, meaning they stay with one partner and even “work” on their relationships.
To sum up, the common raven is thought to be an evil, menacing bird that symbols death and bad luck. As a result of that misconception, a group of ravens is called an unkindness. Other collective nouns used to describe a gathering of these birds includes a congress, a storytelling, or a conspiracy.
However, these birds are much more than meets the eye. Despite their grim appearance, ravens are loving and caring and form strong interpersonal bonds. They are clever birds who use the power of numbers to protect and feed the entire flock.
As a result, the next time you come across one of these birds – don’t be afraid! At the end of the day, a raven is just a bird, and it will not harm you unless it feels threatened. Interestingly, they are known to remember human faces – so make sure you don’t provoke them.
Thank you for reading. If you liked this article, here’s another popular post on a similar topic: What is a group of monkeys called?