A Hunter Returns

Baldwin's Birds


You are, no doubt, reading this as a post seasonal activity, following another Christmas and New Year celebration. Our Avian friends, of course, don’t participate actively in such events, but they are remembered and mentioned in many of our traditional songs and the related stories at this time of the year. How would we get through the 12 Days of Christmas without them? Here is some sort of explanation which I have gleaned from you-know-where!

Bluejay surveying the scene.

The first seven days’ gifts are all birds. That alliterative “partridge in a pear tree” was probably the Red-legged Partridge (Gray Partridge). Day Two’s Turtle Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves. The three French Hens were domestic fowl (chickens).The four “calling birds” were originally “colly birds,” or birds as black as coal. This refers to Europe’s Blackbird (European Blackbird), an inky cousin of our familiar robin. Day Five’s “golden rings” were traditionally pictured as gold Ring-necked Pheasants. That leaves six domestic geese and seven water-loving Mute Swans.

Red Breasted Nuthatch with nut in beak.

As a matter of interest, some folks trying to explain the number of birds in this song have actually made it to 13 by their “rational” deductions, Ref: www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/the-13-birds-of-christmas. I’ll leave you to distinguish between fact and fiction by yourself!

Looking out of the window, the nearest relation that I can see to any of these birds on this cold winter day is a lovely Mourning Dove which stays with us all year round and doesn’t need a “seasonal” excuse to be remembered by us at all!

Of course, the hapless Turkey is also remembered, but for the wrong reason. It has a long history associated with it before it became traditional Christmas fare in the mid-eighteenth century, but I’ll leave you to pursue that further if you so desire.

My title might have been mis-leading during my bird ramblings, but it was referring to the fact that my wife got a quick photograph of our Coopers Hawk yesterday, perching in a tree in anticipation of the pigeons; but, being unaware, they remained oblivious and safe as the Hawk was scared off by a car. 

With my camera still in her hand, my wife took advantage of the situation and got two good shots of the Rose Breasted Nuthatch on a window feeder and the Bluejay a little further away up in a tree.

Happy New Year and best wishes to you all. Stay safe and well.


John Baldwin



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