Walking home this afternoon, just before the rain lets loose, I stop to watch nine or ten hawks wheeling and circling far above the treetops. What is the term for a flock of hawks? Do hawks even travel in flocks? Note to self: look this up. Also: why do flocks of birds seem so ominous? (Hitchcock aside.)
According to the internet, hawks do travel in flocks. A flock of hawks is a cast or a kettle or an aerie.
However, (also according to the internet), what I saw was probably a flock of turkey vultures. A flock of turkey vultures on the ground is called a venue. In the air, it's a kettle. (If you want to know how to get rid of OR attract vultures, the Turkey Vulture Society webpage has answers for you.)
Also: a bunch of emus is called a mob. Obviously, I did not see a mob of emus on the way home.
On why flocks of birds seem so ominous, Google's first return (of 128,000) was a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring: "in the air, flocks of birds had been circling, black against the pale sky." Not an answer to my question, but yeah, exactly.
Everything is more compelling when I have 150 midterms and essays to mark.