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Icarus
18-05-2007, 11:22
Hi, I was just wondering if anyone knew if the following was true or not.

In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, there is a short story called 'A Parliament of Rooks' in the collection 'Fables and Reflections'. In this Cain mentions the following phenomenon:

For reasons unknown to humans, Rooks are often seen to suddenly congregate in large open spaces. Within minutes an empty field may suddenly be full of rooks. In the centre there will be an open space where one rook sits alone. This rook will caw and make a lot of noise. It is from this we get the term 'A Parliament of Rooks'.

After the central Rook has been cawing for some time, one of two things will happen. Either all the rooks will fly away, or as one they will descend on the lone rook and peck him to death.


This was a small point related to the main story but I just found it interesting. I know that the collective term for rooks is a 'parliament' so I wondered if the rest is true, or if Gaiman was just being his normal inventive self?

McMullet
18-05-2007, 11:26
There are a lot of funny collective nouns in the English language. A murder of crows, for example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animal_names

AMBS
18-05-2007, 11:28
Sucks to be a lone rook.

Bombot
18-05-2007, 12:14
I found no mention of this other than where the book was mentioned too. Sounds like fiction to me.

Hellebore
18-05-2007, 12:24
I have heard the term, I think.

However this (http://www.rinkworks.com/words/collective.shtml) gives 3 examples, and none of them use the word parliament...

Hellebore

Bombot
18-05-2007, 12:30
Hmm, well a storytelling of rooks ties in with the tale (the cental rook is supposed to be telling a story).

Still can't find any mention of the reason for the name.

AMBS
18-05-2007, 12:39
...and all the other rooks say "That story was crap. Give him a good pecking!"

Jedi152
18-05-2007, 12:52
Given that wiki link calls a group of aardvarks an aarmoury, and a group of ravens a 'nevermore' i doubt it's legitimacy.

Shadowseer Crofty
18-05-2007, 12:58
Given that wiki link calls a group of aardvarks an aarmoury, and a group of ravens a 'nevermore' i doubt it's legitimacy.

and it calls a group of lemmings a suicide pact. which is quite appropriate.

Jedi152
18-05-2007, 12:59
:D

Do lemmings really run off cliffs, or is that all an urban legend?

AMBS
18-05-2007, 13:02
No, they just try to swim across the channel and drown following exhaustion.

Rabid Bunny 666
18-05-2007, 13:53
Given that wiki link calls a group of aardvarks an aarmoury, and a group of ravens a 'nevermore' i doubt it's legitimacy.

I thought it was a conspiracy of Ravens?

Jellicoe
18-05-2007, 14:02
I parliament of rooks is correct

in my local hospital the collective noun for a group of midwives is a Jihad as whilst lovely singlely collectively they are utterly single minded and unreasonable (and possibly prone to violence)

The pestilent 1
18-05-2007, 14:18
I thought it was a conspiracy of Ravens?

Nope Murder, presumably they sound like someone being murdered or some crap, but I wouldn't know, only thing we have are pigeons and those little black / White / blue bastards.

AMBS
18-05-2007, 14:20
I suppose a group of pigeons is called a 'kebab'.

McMullet
18-05-2007, 14:23
:D

Do lemmings really run off cliffs, or is that all an urban legend?
From what I recall, that arises from the early days of nature programs, where the film makers were more interested in spectacle than factual accuracy. Some Disney film involved shooing a bunch of lemmings over a cliff, and presented it as real lemming behaviour.

Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Wilderness

de Selby
18-05-2007, 16:39
I've heard 'conspiracy of ravens' and 'parliament of owls'. Can't help with the original question though. It sounds a bit too romantically suggestive to be real.

salty
18-05-2007, 16:40
McMullet is right. You can always trust good ol' Disney to come through on the animal cruelty front...

However, I do recall hearing of both Ravens and Rooks being referred to as a Parliament of.

Salty :)

Icarus
18-05-2007, 16:52
Can't help with the original question though. It sounds a bit too romantically suggestive to be real.

Yeah I thought that too, but I've also always been interested by the many weird and bizarre things that happen in the animal kingdom. Birds in particular do some weird stuff, like when you see hundreds of thousands of them swirling around before they migrate, that always fascinates me. So I thought perhaps there was some truth in the story....

However if neither Wikipedia or the Warseer community have the answer, then perhaps the answer does not exist! :)

de Selby
18-05-2007, 17:06
There's a whole book about the gathering of rooks here:

http://www.pinkfootpress.co.uk/pamphlets.htm#roo

Wikipedia explicitly mentions Gaiman's story about the one rook. It's the kind of idea that's appealing enough to become independant folklore, which Gaiman would no doubt really appreciate.

A neutral shade of black.
18-05-2007, 21:40
Nope Murder, presumably they sound like someone being murdered or some crap, but I wouldn't know, only thing we have are pigeons and those little black / White / blue bastards.

Ravens != crows.

TeddyC
18-05-2007, 22:35
i misread the title for rocks

chromedog
19-05-2007, 01:39
Rooks are not crows. Neither are ravens crows.
People here call our large black birds crows. We have ravens here (size and slight colouring differences).
Parliament of rooks is correct. Murder of crows is correct. It's a Unkindness of ravens. Of course, if your native language isn't ENGLISH (like Americans, who speak a strange dialect of it) your collectives will be different.

Can't speak for the provenance of Gaiman's usage (though i do have that story) but he was usually close to the mark, and wiki needs a serious BS and bias filter.

McMullet
19-05-2007, 11:52
Technically, Rooks and Ravens (and Magpies, Jackdaws, Choughs. etc.) are all crows. Crow refers to the genus Corvid. What we commonly call a "Crow" is just another type of crow, properly called a Carrion Crow.

peemee
12-04-2012, 13:56
I don't know how true it is, but I know that Neil Gaiman didn't create the idea. I live in Ireland and I heard about this before Gaiman wrote about it, might be just a local myth or it could be based on something real. I know one person (who I would consider reliable and honest) who claims to have seen a very large circle of rooks in a field one day with one rook in the middle. She was driving at the time and wasn't around to see what happened after.

Burnthem
12-04-2012, 14:27
Threadnomancy much???

Shush
12-04-2012, 14:58
It's an interesting story and really odd behaviour if the birds actually do it!

de Selby
12-04-2012, 16:21
Hey, threadomancy is cool if you've actually got information to contribute. It's also inevitable given Warseer's automatic 'similar threads' feature, which is currently giving me options from 2005 and 2006.

Greendragon
13-04-2012, 01:15
threadnomancy, what an awesome term! I'm gonna give that a go on something old and outdated in a minute... Anyway, I don't know about the name but I doubt rooks will ever attack a lone rook in the fashion described. Round here they are only known to eat worms and shield bugs. Crows go for dead lambs/roadkill etc, I've never seen or heard of anyone seeing rooks attacking and eating another rook. Buzzards however... Rooks around here are getting quite brave and like to mug off local buzzards in aeriel battles, its amusing watching them try it to a Peregrin Falcon which proceeds to utterly destroy them by bombing into them from above. Ahhh nature... xD Fortunatly/Unfortunatly (depending on how you see it), I am now a wargamer so spend more time inside with a paintbrush in my hand than I do staring at tree branches with binoculars.

Disposable Hero
15-04-2012, 18:32
Nasty black assassins, if you ask me.