Close this search box.

Love The Birds is reader-supported. When you purchase through one of our links we may earn an affiliate commission (at no cost to you).

What is a Group of Crows Called?

murder of crows on a dead tree

Ever noticed crows gathering and wondered, "What is the American crow group called?" 

Here’s the answer to remember and impress your friends: A group of crows is called a 'murder!'

What is a Group of Crows Called?

Crows are small animals with black feathers that can be found around the world. They are well-known for their intelligence and can live up to an amazing 20 years! Have you ever seen a group of crows together? If so, you may be wondering what they are called.

The genus Corvus enlists the common American crows, ravens, rooks, and other animal variations.

While, the wider Corvidae family group jays, magpies, nutcrackers, and other animals.

The collective noun used for a group of crows is either a "murder" or "flock". A "murder" is used when describing a large group, usually more than three or four individuals. On the other hand, "flocks" typically refer to smaller gatherings of two or three birds.

Crows form large groups for safety, protection, and coordination when hunting or searching for food.

They also work together to protect their young from predators, such as cats, eagles, and hawks. The bigger the murder grows, the better they are at working together and responding quickly to any threats. Each member of the flock has its role - some act as scouts and other crows stay back to inform potential predators of their presence.

It's no wonder why crows are considered some of the smartest birds around - due to their impressive cooperation skills and ability to learn new things quickly. These qualities give them a great advantage in nature!

History of the Name

A "murder" or "unkindness" is what folk tales call a gathering of crows. This term was noted in the late 16th century and probably comes from Old Norse.

People in the late middle ages have often seen crows in large flocks and interpreted their behavior as mysterious or even bad.

In some parts of Europe, the sight of crows was called murder.

It is thought to bring bad luck and is linked to death, sadness, and other bad vibes. This may be why they are referred to as a murder of crows instead of a flock or pride.

murder of crows

Other collective nouns for groups that crows form include a clamor of crows, graveyard of crows, company of crows, labor of crows, parcel of crows, and storytelling of crows. All of these refer to the same thing: when crows flock gather in one spot and usually look for or eat food.

Collective Nouns Used To Describe Crows

Here are the most common collective names for crows and their probable reasons:

  1. Murder - Large flocks of crows gather in a "murder" to roost and find safety in numbers.
  2. Parliament - This term, inspired by the wise and contemplative nature of crows, refers to a group of crows in a gathering similar to a parliament of owls.
  3. Horde - When crows congregate in large numbers, they are sometimes referred to as a "horde," showcasing their ability to swarm in search of food or during migration.
  4. Mob - A collective term used for a group of crows that are actively engaging with potential threats or predators, displaying their cooperative defensive tactics.
  5. Storytelling - This endearing term is used to describe crows when they come together to interact and vocalize, possibly exchanging information or stories.
  6. Cluster - When crows assemble in a small group, they form a "cluster" that may be observed searching for food or exploring their surroundings.
  7. Calling - If crows are found in a group and engaged in loud vocalizations, they can be called a "calling" of crows.
  8. Muster - A group of crows gathering for a particular purpose, such as a food source, can be referred to as a "muster."
  9. Horde - Similar to "mob," this term describes a large group of crows, particularly when they come together during migration.
  10. Gathering - A general term used for crows assembling in any social context, whether it's for feeding, roosting, or other social interactions.

Types of Groups of Crows

When talking about a horde of crows, the most common term is "murder". This has been used for centuries to refer to large gatherings of birds. Other words people use include "cawing", “coven” and “clowder”.

group of crows

Crows fly in huge flocks in nature, and the formations they make may vary around the world. In Ireland, they might be called a "skulk", and in Britain, a "streel".

Flocks protect crows from predators.

They do this, especially during migrations, where they travel more than 1,000km from their breeding grounds. Remarkably, they return to the same place every year for mating season.

No single word accurately describes the size or composition of crows in a gathering. In literature or media, words such as “flight” or “flock” may be used instead of “murder”, depending on the context.

The Behavior of Crows in Groups

The crow is a very social species. They bond for life, living in large groups or flocks of hundreds. They protect each other from predators and come to the aid of sick or injured members.

To display their unity, they make vocalizations in large numbers and groom one another.

When the birds are sleeping near another warm body, it's much easier for them to stay warm and fend off the cold being in a flock.

When seen together in the sky or on the ground, these groups are known as a "murder" of crows. This term was used in Europe during the 16th century and was adopted by North Americans.

The Benefits of Crows in Groups

Crows come together in "murders" or "unkindnesses".

This is advantageous, as they can share food and watch out for danger. They take advantage of collective intelligence, passing on info to make smarter decisions. Furthermore, they can detect predators, food sources, and safer flight paths.

Groups also form for mating displays or rituals.

cawing crow

A larger number of birds increases the probability of successful mating. Moreover, groups protect fledglings, allowing more adults to help look after them without impacting their own food sources and resource search.

The Relationship Between Crows and Humans

Crows have a unique bond with humans. People may fear them and think they bring bad luck. But, there's more to it. The American crow birds are smart (compared with other birds) with social relationships that last a lifetime.

They live in families of parents and young, called "murders." It is believed that mating for life helps secure the young's future. American crows have a complex language with over thirty calls and different responses.

Humans and crows have been together since ancient times.

Plato observed their cleverness.

Ancient cultures respected their intelligence, leading to myths of their third eye and protection from bad spirits.

Read Also: What Do Crows Eat?

crow on a flight

One of Europe's bird species is named the carrion crow. The association with death led people to believe crows portended disaster.

Many consider the appearance of crows as an omen of death because they are scavengers and are generally related to dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries.

Nowadays, many cultures admire crows' personalities. Japanese macaques use them to clean up beaches. Ravens are welcome in public gardens. The bond between man and corvid continues, based on respect for each other's intelligence.

Conservation Efforts for Crows

American crows may not be immune from the threats of other bird species, like geese or owls. Their natural habitats are destroyed by logging, farming, hunting, and urban development. They are also at risk of being shot and poisoned.

To save large numbers of crows, there have been several conservation efforts. The Montecito Crow Project researches crow abundance and movements in California. The Northern Flicker Project studies how logging affects Northern Flickers, a species of crow.

The NRDC and National Audubon Society Association produce reports about threats to birds and how to protect them.

Finally, there's research from universities such as Cornell University in New York which studies bird behavior and ecology to protect them in human-influenced landscapes, that allow them to gather and use better access and scavenging abilities for food sources.

lone crow


A group of crows? That's a "murder"! They scavenge a lot. Plus, they are incredibly social – from only a few to hundreds or even thousands. American crows are smart, curious birds and take care of their young. They can even use tools!

Not only do they help us humans, but they are also really interesting and special animals which everyone can appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a group of crows called?

Collective nouns for the birds crows are murder, mob, and horde.

How many crows make up a murder?

There is no specific number of crows that make up a murder, it can range from a few to several hundred depending on the location and circumstances.

Why are they called a murder of crows?

The origin of the term is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated from ancient superstition and linked with "bad behavior." The American crow was thought of as an omen of death, and perhaps that's why seeing multiple crows together was a sign of impending doom or a "murder."

Scroll to Top