PanicA sudden and often unaccountable stir in a colony of such birds as terns (family Sternidae) in which the birds fly up and circle around. Usually the panic is short-lived and they soon settle down again. This phenomenon, especially if the birds are silent, may also be called a 'dread'.
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From Peter Weaver's Birdwatcher's Dictionary
Copyright © 1981 by Peter Weaver