A what?? of wagtails

BY Karen Hunt


What do you call a group of willie wagtails?

Its one of those questions in search of an answer but beware, past attempts to collectively name birds have left more cases of misleading information than a Dodgy Brothers ad.

Take owls for example. Being a mostly solitary bird, its unlikely they would ever form a parliament. And having seen a couple of parliaments in my time, I have to say the reputed wisdom and dignity of the owl is very much in abeyance.

Crows are rarely murderous, although definitely malicious, and I’ve never seen them muster. Choughs don’t clatter, eagles never convocate and robins are rarely a riot. I have trouble imagining a hill of sand-pipers. or a wisp of snipe even though I held a Lathams Snipe once and it WAS pretty small.

On the other hand, a peep of chickens sounds just right. As does a pandemonium of parrots, a screech of gulls and a murmuration of starlings. And having once raised Guinea fowl, I can attest that a confusion of guinea fowl is just that.

A pretence of bitterns could I guess be explained by the birds constant disguise as a reed but please explain – what is a twack of ducks? My dictionary has twack meaning to strike something hard with the back of the middle finger and although my experience with ducks is not extensive, their lack of a middle finger seems to render that explanation a tad ridiculous.

So what to call my Willie Wagtails?

It has to be a word that encapsulates their perkiness, their cheerful fearlessness and air of joie de vie combined with their sartorial splendor, a classic tuxedo jacket and slim line trews. The word must do justice to the constantly flicking tail, which seems to have go than the Eveready battery bloke.

So, how about a waggle of willies?

Works for me.

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