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An Earth of Foxes
I'm sure everyone knows a group of cows is called a herd. But did you realize that there are collective nouns for all of the other animals, too? Some of the names are descriptive and it is easy to understand why a particular group is given that name. Other collective nouns were created just for the animal.
The fox is a remarkable animal. Because of its beautiful, bushy tail, it is hard not to recognize one of these canines when you spot it running through your field or sneaking out of your henhouse. A group of these long eared, narrow-muzzled animals is an earth of foxes. Why an earth? The place the female fox, or vixen, searches out to raise her young is called an earth. It could be a spot under your shed, or it could be a spot out in the woods. Wherever it is, the female will stay there with her cubs until they are weaned.
I'm sure that everyone can identify the slow-moving mollusks that leave a trail of slime behind when they move. Snails fascinate some people, while others are grossed out by them. Some love them so much that they dine on escargot. An escargatoire of snails will cover their bodies with a thin layer of mucus to keep from drying out. In times of drought, these animals could face severe problems surviving.
Exultation is lively or triumphant joy. To skylark is to play actively and boisterously. It is no wonder that a group of frolicsome skylarks, who are known for singing while flying, is known as an exultation of skylarks.
The woodcock, as you can probably guess from its name, is a forest bird. Why is a group of them known as a fall of woodcocks? It could be because woodcocks are known for their frantic sky dances. They ascend to great heights as they are dancing, and then they descend rapidly. I have never seen this dance, but when they come back to earth, it probably looks as though they are falling from the sky.
A family is a basic social unit. It usually consists of two parents and one or more children. Whether or not they live together, they are considered to be a family. There are three different animals that use 'family' as a group name.
Beavers are rodents known for cutting through wood with their very sharp teeth. They use this wood to build dams across streams. They then build a home, known as a lodge, on the lake that forms. This is where you can find a family of beavers.
Otters are members of the weasel family and spend most of their time in the water. In North America, they can be found along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. A family of otters is very loving; a mother will often float on her back in the water while she nurses her young.
The collective noun for a certain group of fish is also a family. A family of sardines is very large, and they are all probably related to each other somehow. For sardines, the family that swims together, stays together – even if you end up in the fisherman's net.
Ferrets are close relatives of the skunk, the polecat, and the weasel. Many people keep these playful animals as pets. A group of these sneaky, thieving creatures is known as a fesnying of ferrets.
Now how could you make use of these collective nouns for animals in your writing? An exultation of skylarks could be used to describe a group of children in a schoolyard. A fesnying of ferrets could describe a group of thieves. A family of sardines could be a family whose members stick so close together that individual members are never seen out alone. An earth of foxes could be a group of young mothers seeking out a place to raise their children in a war-torn, savage land.
Try writing one of these collective nouns, such as a family of beavers, down on a sheet of paper. Now write down everything you know about this animal, and everything you know about a family. You may be surprised at the ideas that this will give you for some wonderful stories.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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