What is a 'calling bird' that is referenced in 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'?
I received an interesting phone call today from the local newspaper. They knew that I was active in the “bird world” and that I raised parrots. They presented me with an interesting question: “What is a Calling Bird” and “How much does it cost to get one?". He went on to explain that he was doing a story for the local newspaper about how much it would cost to purchase ALL the items from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It is not hard to figure out what golden rings and turtle doves are, but it's a little tougher to determine what a 'Calling Bird' is and where a 'true love' would go to purchase them.
The ‘calling birds’ in the song is a variation of the word ‘colly’ or ‘collie bird. The definition of ‘colly’ is ‘black’ and came from the old word for coal. So simply put, a ‘calling bird’ is a blackbird.
The ‘common blackbird’ is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. These birds have a life expectancy of only 2.4 years, although the oldest ‘blackbird’ on record was a little over 21 years old. This data was collected by the banding of these wild birds.
The ‘common blackbird’ can be quite territorial especially during breeding season which is much like the parrots in our homes. The males are very quick to protect their breeding territory and the females are quite aggressive in their competition for a suitable nesting area. The female ‘blackbirds’ do not fight as often as the males, but when they do – the fight tends to be more violent than that of the male ‘blackbird’.
The ‘blackbird’ is known for its melodic flute like calls. Their songs would be a little more soothing than the calls of the typical household parrot. The ‘blackbird’ starts singing in late January in order to establish their nesting territory. Two of the subspecies of the ‘blackbird’ have even been known to mimic other sounds such as other birds, alarms and even humans.
Feeding the common blackbird would be quite a challenge if
we had them living in our homes. These
birds are omnivores and eat their fare share of insects and worms. They are obviously what is known as a ‘ground
feeder’. They will even eat small
critters like frogs, tadpoles and lizards. Feeding a parrot is much more conducive to MY lifestyle!
Four Calling Parrots
Needless to say, I wasn’t much help in finding the cost of a ‘blackbird’ for the gentleman on the phone. I am still unsure as to why someone would want to give their ‘true love’ these ‘calling birds’. I personally would prefer that if 'my true love' wanted to send me some birds, that he send me 'four calling parrots'.
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