Twelve birds of Christmas

“On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

For no better reason that it is a song that features several birds and is sung at this time of year, I looked up the history of ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’.  The carol was first published in 1780 and has appeared in several guises and languages (1).  The one printed above is the modern English version.

While the carol lists swans, geese, French hens, turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree as gifts, it is the ‘four calling birds’ that caught my attention.  The phrase suggests song birds of some sort, and so it proves.  In the original version, they appeared as ‘four colly birds’ meaning coal-black birds, so most likely blackbirds (Turdus merula). However, Halliwell recorded it as ‘four canary birds’ in his Nursery Rhymes of England (1842), an interpretation that was endorsed by Rimbault in 1846.

That’s good enough for me. ‘Four canary birds’ is my version of choice, even if Halliwell reverted to ‘colly birds’ in his 1853 edition.  Spoil sport.

My gifts are canaries too, or at least photographs of them.  In keeping with the festive spirit, here are my twelve birds of Christmas (2).  You can place them in any order you like.

Lizard canaries 2021
2021-020: a male broken cap gold Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-019 a female near-non cap silver Lizard canary
Lizard canaries 2021 Huw Evans
2021-018: a female near-non cap gold Lizard canary
Lizard canaries 2021
2021-008: a male broken cap silver Lizard canary
Lizard canaries 2021
2021-009: a female broken cap gold Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-011 a near non cap silver female Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-005: a male broken cap gold Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-013: a male broken cap silver Lizard canary
Lizard canaries 2021 Huw Evans
2021-021: a female clear cap silver Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-012: a female broken cap gold Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-022: a male clear cap silver Lizard canary
Lizard canaries Huw Evans 2021
2021-002: a female non cap silver Lizard canary

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to my readers.

Footnote:

  1. Most of the historical information is derived from the Wikipedia  page on The Twelve Days of Christmas.
  2. I don’t breed birds in large numbers.  The twelve Lizard canaries you see above represent over half of my 2021 crop.

14 thoughts on “Twelve birds of Christmas

  1. Congratulations, you must be a very happy man Huw with these extreme nice birds. Merry christmas to everyone, hope too see more breeders in 2022, stay negative!

  2. Great, great birds…
    Thank you Huw for these twelve wonderful Iizards!
    Merry Christmas for you and your family
    Cheers

      1. Correct. Unfortunately she didn’t like the photo cage and refused to relax in front of the camera.

  3. Whatever the origin of this carol, these 12 photos of your 2021 lizard canaries are like 12 Christmas gifts for our eyes.
    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you & your family

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