The wise old owl is a creature of the night, sitting silently on branches, staring into the dark void, and searching for prey. Owls can be challenging to spot due to their nocturnal and solitary behaviors. And often, when we see one, they are alone. But that is only sometimes true. So what is a group of owls called, and how do these intelligent creatures function within one?
Group Owl Names and Origins
The most common way to refer to a group of owls is to call them a parliament. Some other less common group owl names include a stare, a hooting, a congress, and a wisdom.
And it actually doesn’t end there. Here is a list of more collective nouns for owls:
When birds fly together, it is called a silence. Owls are known as silent hunters due to their specially-shaped fringed wings that reduce friction and noise as they move through their habitats. However, seeing a group, or even a pair, of owls flying together is pretty rare, so you may not get to use this term too frequently.
Why is a Group of Owls Called a Parliament?
There are several theories as to where the term “parliament of owls” comes from. And it’s safe to say that no one really knows exactly.
One theory pins its origin to Ancient Greece when wise leaders would gather in parliaments. When you combine that with the folklore of owls being wise, you can see how the connection is made. Also in Greek mythology, the symbol for Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is an owl.
We can also trace this term back to classic poetry and literature. During the 1300s, Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet, used the term, “Parlement of Foules” in one of his works. And then C.S. Lewis in the 1950s wrote about a parliament of owls meeting at night to discuss important affairs in The Chronicles of Narnia. Because the book was a smashing success, we most likely owe this terminology to Mr. Lewis.
What is a Group of Baby Owls Called?
A group of baby owls is called a brood, and the term for a baby owl is an owlet. So, you wouldn’t say “brood of owls,” you would say “brood of owlets.”
Do Owls Form Groups?
Owls are typically solitary creatures, rarely seen in groups or pairs. But occasionally, and depending on the species, do form groups, or parliaments. When this happens, there are usually no more than five in a group and they consist of members of the same family or species. Some species will also roost communally and fly together. Barn owls, burrowing owls, and short-eared owls are the species most likely to form small flocks.
When Do Owls Form Groups?
During the breeding season, owls are generally only found in pairs or alone. And outside of the breeding season (fall and winter) is when they are more likely to form groups. During the day, you may find them quietly roosting together.
How Do Owl Groups Function?
The most common way to find a sagaciousness of owls (been waiting to use that) is when they are roosting outside of the breeding season. Owls roost communally to stay warm during the cold winter months and to keep themselves safe from predators. However, most owl species hunt alone. Unlike many animal groups, owls do not seem to have a strong pecking order.
Do Owls Stay Together Forever?
Most owls are monogamous and mate for life. However, some species may only stay with their mate for a few years before find a new one. When their mate dies, they will take another one. They perform courtship rituals and return to the same nesting spot each year. And their young fledge the nest between six and eight weeks old.
How Long Do Owl Families Stay Together?
Some owls, like the barred owl, depend on their parents for longer. After fledging the nest, sibling barred owls will stay together for several months, while their parents still bring them food. By early fall, their parents begin weening them from feedings until they fly off on their own.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Harry Collins
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