Why Is a Group of Crows Called a Murder? (The Story Behind It)

A murder of crows in the wild

Has the question “What is a group of crows called?” ever crossed your mind? If so, this article answers that question and the story behind its peculiar name.

Crows are pure black birds commonly seen in several countries across the globe. They are some of the most intelligent and highly adaptive birds known for their loud and harsh “caw” sounds.

If you’re curious to learn what a group of crows is called and other fun facts, such as when crows flock together and why they flock in such large numbers, this article features all that and more!

What Is a Group of Crows Called?

Group of crows perched on a fallen tree

Generally, the most common collective noun used to describe a group of crows is called a murder of crows.

Although many people have no clue as to why they are called such, this term has been used for several years and is still the most commonly used noun to describe them.

Why Is a Group of Crows Called a “Murder”?

Most references say that the term “murder” was used to collectively describe a group of crows based on historical and behavioral reasons.

Since crows are scavengers by nature, they are often seen scavenging around carrion or dead animals. They are also typically seen around cemeteries, gallows, or empty fields, searching for food sources.

Different field studies have also observed that a group of crows occasionally kill injured or weak crows that trespass their territory, especially during fights and competition over food sources.

Due to the eerie and mysterious presence and behavior of these groups of crows and the places they choose to occupy, people have begun coming up with superstitions and other beliefs surrounding them.

Although no superstition revolving around the presence of crows has been proven to be true, their dark and mysterious presence has given them an odd reputation and peculiar group name.

Other Names for a Group of Crows

Group of crows flocked on a tree branch

While murder is the most common and well-known term to describe a group of crows, several other terms exist. Listed below are 16 different names one can use to describe a group of crows:

  • A mob of crows
  • A clan of crows
  • A kine of crows
  • A hoard of crows
  • A hover of crows
  • A brood of crows
  • A parcel of crows
  • A caucus of crows
  • A muster of crows
  • A rookery of crows
  • A cauldron of crows
  • A company of crows
  • A congress of crows
  • A collection of crows
  • A corroboree of crows
  • A murmuration of crows

Among those mentioned in the list, the terms mob, clan, parcel, muster, and collection are some of the most commonly used names to describe a group of crows, aside from murder.

Check out the video below to see what a huge murder of crows looks like:

Huge murder of crows!

‎How Many Crows Are in a Murder?

A murder of crows is usually made up of 15 birds, particularly during the late summer and spring. When winter and the colder months approach, crows typically form murders of around 100 to 1,000 crows.

Although a group of crows usually consists of around ten birds, smaller groups consisting of three or more crows may still be referred to as a murder of crows.

When Do Crows Flock Together?

Crows flocked together to eat

Crows tend to flock together most during cold weather conditions. This helps provide them with more heat and chances of scavenging for more prominent food sources.

Crows also typically flock together when a threat is upon them. These threats usually include larger raptors such as eagles, hawks, and falcons that consider vulnerable crows as prey.

In fact, in one particular instance when I visited a cousin’s home near the countryside, I saw a huge number of crows attacking just a single eagle in what seemed like an act of territory defense.

I was expecting the eagle to fight back and for a bloodbath to occur, given the strength of the eagle. To my surprise, what the eagle did was fly high enough to steer clear of the crows.

Another instance when crows flock together is when they discover a large food source. Growing murders of crows typically attract more nearby crows to join, as this may be a sign that a food source has been found.

Why Do Crows Flock in Large Numbers?

Several observations and studies show how and why a large group of crows called a murder come together. Many of these reasons are typically for the benefit of the crows and the group.

For one, crows flock in large numbers for heat during the cold months, safety in harsh environmental conditions, and more chances of scavenging large amounts of food sources.

Since crows are relatively small to medium-sized birds, larger raptors often see them as prey. Flocking in large murders of crows provides them more safety and security against predators that may hunt them.

Some examples of large predators that may attack vulnerable crows include eagles, falcons, hawks, and large owls. Flying in large numbers greatly discourages attacks from larger birds and fends away potential threats.

If you’ve encountered a murder of crows, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below! If you have other questions regarding these birds, let us hear them, too!

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