MANY PARTRIDGES DO YOU NEED?
I have noted before, the most ecologically relevant song of the Christmas
season is the one that starts off with a partridge in a pear tree as
the first of many gifts. According to my calculations, by the 12th day
of Christmas someone's true love had delivered more geese and swans
than any other bird. In fact, 42 of each ended up under new ownership,
compared to only 12 partridges and 22 turtledoves.
At 30 and
36, respectively, French hens and calling birds were closer in numbers
to the geese and swans but still fell short. I am almost certainly not
the only person to have made these Christmas bird counts, so if I got
them wrong, please let me know.
this have to do with ecology? Anything involving an animal or plant
has something to do with the environment. As this is the season for
giving, my gift to readers is information about some ecological aspects
related to this song.
what is a swan goose, and is it suitable for gift giving? What's another
name for an ugly duckling? And does anyone really know what a calling
that could create a dilemma for someone giving geese and swans to a
true love is the so-called swan goose, which is genetically related
to both but not enough so to be classified as one or the other. Do you
give them as geese on the sixth day or swans on the seventh? This isn't
likely to affect U.S. gift givers as the species is rare throughout
most of its native range from Mongolia to Korea.
and geese belong to the same family of mostly migratory waterfowl. For
your gift on the sixth day of Christmas, you can select from more than
a dozen kinds of geese found worldwide. One that would not be suitable
for gifting is the Hawaiian goose, or nene. The Hawaiian state bird
is on the federal endangered species list.
Americans a swan is a big white bird that looks regal gliding around
on a lake, and indeed most of the world's half dozen or so swan types
are all white or mostly so. The species native to Australia, however,
is black with a bright red bill.
that seven black swans have ever been given to anyone on the seventh
day of Christmas. As with many domesticated animals, the males, females,
and babies have different names. A male swan is a cob; a female, a pen.
The babies, aka ugly ducklings, are called cygnets.
suggest that the five gold rings refer to rings on a pheasant's neck,
which would make the first seven gifts avian related. But the idea (however
logical it might be) isn't likely to catch on at this late date, so
I'm not including ring-necked pheasants in this Christmas bird count.
and the French hen are related to quail and pheasant. They can be pretty;
they produce eggs that are edible; and they themselves are edible. Clearly,
good gifts. Turtledoves, a type of migratory pigeon found from Europe
to Africa, would be a poor gift choice because their numbers have declined
considerably in recent years. "Calling bird" is apparently
a corruption of "colly bird." Colly means "black or sooty,"
so the fourth day's gift would be blackbirds. Since they can be "baked
in a pie," colly birds might be a nice gift.
song's final Christmas bird count, the record for highest number should
probably go to the geese.
of them were a-laying and would presumably soon have goslings running
around, whereas the 42 swans were simply a-swimming, with no ugly ducklings
did on the twelfth day of Christmas with 184 mostly big birds running
around their house (or sitting in pear trees), I can only imagine. Maybe
the 48 maids that I calculate were present, stopped a-milking and started
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