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What is a Group of Hawks Called? Let's Figure Out Hawk Lingo!

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Mar 25th, 2024
pair of hawks - featured image

The majesty of Hawks is almost legendary; these iconic birds of prey belong to the Accipitridae family and are considered by many to be the true descendants of predatory dinosaurs. But we're not here to give you a 101 on hawks.

You're probably wondering "What is a group of hawks called?"

Well, let's get down to business and take a look at the common collective nouns used to describe hawks! 

What do You Call a Group of Hawks & Why?

Wondering "What is a group of hawks called?"

Usually, a group of hawks is commonly referred to as a kettle, although terms like "boil" and "cast" are also sometimes used.

So, why are they called so?

It all comes down to the bird behavior of hawks kettling. "Kettle" refers to the spiraling formation of hawks when they're migrating (as in water boiling in a kettle). Whereas, "cast" is an older term used to describe a group of birds of prey, including most hawks and many birds like eagles, falcons, kestrels, etc.

Collective nouns for hawks are based on their group behavior. 

"Boil" probably comes from the collective soaring and swirling movements of hawks during migration, i.e., as if water is boiling.

However, that's only half of the answer to "What is a group of hawks called?"

What are Some Other Names for Groups of Hawks?

Taking advantage of the diverse vocabulary of birders, we've also put together some lesser-known but commonly used terms that tend to describe a hawk kettle. Other names for a hawk group include "flock," "flight," and "congregation."

"Flock" is a more generic term for a group of bird species, including hawks. "Flight," on the other hand, emphasizes the collective airborne movement of hawk species. Whereas, "congregation" implies a gathering or assembly of hawks in a particular area.

What do We Call a Pair of Hawks?

Well, we've discussed larger groups of hawks, but what about pairs? A pair of hawks can be referred to as a "mated pair" or "breeding pair." Of course, this means that the hawks are paired for mating and raising offspring. The term "eyrie" or "aerie" can also refer to a group of hawks nesting or roosting together.

a pair of hawks

In some contexts, there may not be specific terms for a pair of hawks.

Mostly, the terms used to describe groups of hawks are for larger numbers or for a mating pair. 

What do You Call a Group of Baby Hawks?

A group of baby hawks is commonly called a "brood" or "nursery." "Brood" emphasizes the concept of offspring collectively cared for by the parents. "Nursery," on the other hand, highlights the early stage of development and nurturing of the young hawks.

Are Hawks Solo Birds or Do They Group Together?

As with other birds of prey, hawks are generally solitary birds, known for their independent hunting and territorial behavior. If you've seen hawks flying overhead to hunt for rodents and serpents, you'll attest to this too.

Hawks are usually solitary but group together for migrations, mating, and hunting.

hawk image

However, when migrating, or during the breeding season, hawks may exhibit some degree of grouping or social behavior. This is when a collective noun becomes relevant. Please note that the extent of hawk grouping can vary among different species and geographic regions.

Flock vs Kettles - What is the More Appropriate Term?

Both "flock" and "kettle" refer to a group of hawks, but they have slightly different connotations. "Flock" is a more general term that applies to all sorts of bird species, be they falcons, starlings, or hawks. "Kettle," on the other hand, specifically refers to the circling flight pattern of hawks in thermal updrafts during migration.

The choice of term should depend on the context.

Kettle is a more appropriate term for when you're referring to the migration groups of hawks, rather than other species.

All Common Terms Used to Describe Groups of Hawks

General terms used to describe groups of hawks when migrating or hunting:

  • Kettle
  • Boil
  • Flock
  • Cast
  • Flight
  • Roster
  • Convocation

Terms used to describe mating pairs of hawks:

  • Aerie
  • Eyrie
  • Mated pair
  • Breeding pair

Terms used to describe younglings of hawks in the nest:

  • Brood
  • Nursery

Bottom Line

That's all we have on what you call a hawk group. The next time you're in a birding group discussion, hopefully, you won't be lost. But knowing the lingo is only step one. To witness the true majesty of these beings in the wild, gear up for your next birding trip with your friends and family. 

If you're already an avid bird watcher, good for you, otherwise, it's never too late to start - either way, happy birding!

a soaring hawk

FAQs

What is a kettle of hawks?

The term kettle is used to describe large groups of hawks soaring in the sky.

Hawk kettles are so-called because the circling and soaring patterns they create in the sky resemble the movement of water boiling in a kettle.

What is the word for a group of hawks?

A large group of hawks is referred to as kettle, cast, or boil, among other names.

What is a group of birds of prey called?

Generally, groups of birds of prey (red tailed hawks, broad winged hawks, falcons, eagles, and other predatory bird species) are referred to as flocks, congregations, casts, or kettles.

What terms best describe mating pairs of hawks?

When hawks form a mating pair, they are called:

  • Aerie
  • Eyrie
  • Mated pair
  • Breeding pair

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