are all 12 days birds

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is one of those carols that everybody knows and loves. After all, who can resist the joy of singing ‘5 Gold Rings’ at the top of their lungs? Not only is it a catchy Christmas carol, but it also features a lot of birds! From partridges to swans, we’ve got some facts about the feathered friends referenced in the song. As well as what birds some of the non-ornithological verses could have been referring to.

The Purpose of the Gifts

In the end, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is about romance and the presents that “my true love gave to me” during the Christmas season—one gift for each day that counts until Twelfth Night. The gifts are usually focused around food and abundance to provide an opulent lifestyle, emphasizing love and caring.

The gifts continue into entertainment later in the song’s lyrics, fitting in with the joyous spirit of the occasion.

About the “Twelve Days of Christmas”

Nine ladies dancing, ten lords leaping, eleven pipers piping, twelve drummers drumming, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese laying, seven swans swimming, and eight maids milking

Although “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was probably recited or chanted as a lyrical poem much earlier, it was first published in England in 1780. Even though the song’s true beginnings have long since been lost to holiday tradition, French or Scottish music most likely served as inspiration. The musical score was added to the song in 1909. The song’s lyrics and tempo have been slightly altered by various cultures over the years to create the version we know today.

We believe that cattle egrets, who are becoming more common in the UK, are a fitting bird to represent the maids in this Christmas carol. These little white birds have bright yellow beaks and yellow or greyish legs. They usually live close to cattle because the cows’ hooves disturb the invertebrate prey as they walk.

The greylag goose, a native bird of Britain and the ancestor of most domestic geese, is most likely the subject of this verse. Throughout the festive season, flocks of up to 140,000 overwintering geese can be found in Scotland. The largest and bulkiest wild geese are native to the UK and Europe.

Sandpipers are small wading birds that have contrasting brown upperparts and white underparts. When they take off in flight, they make a characteristic three-note piping cry. The common sandpiper breeds in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the north of England during the summer months by lakes, lochs, and reservoirs. In winter, they may be seen along the south coast.

Many birds perform dancing routines during courtship rituals. With their characteristic bobbing dancing stance and habit of drying their wings, cormorants strike us as having a very feminine appearance. A true love would have most likely found some of the UK’s internationally significant wintering population to give to at Christmas!

Turtle doves are a frequent summertime visitor to the UK. They have a long tail, slender bodies, and intricately marked feathers with dusty pink on the head, underparts, and neck. Additionally, they have a somewhat recognizable scalloped pattern on the wings and a collar with black and white stripes on both sides. Regretfully, the only summer migrant pigeon species in the UK has a severe decline in population and is currently classified as red.


What is a calling bird in the 12 Days of Christmas?

A Eurasian blackbird. This is where a look back at the history of the lyrics pays dividends, because early versions of the song don’t talk about “calling birds” at all but about “colly birds.” The word “colly” comes from the Old English word for coal.

What is the 12 Days of Christmas tradition?

The original twelve days of Christmas were a series of religious feast days celebrated as part of the Roman Catholic religion in medieval and Tudor England. Starting on Christmas Day, there were 12 days of religious celebrations, feasting and entertainments that lasted all the way up to 5 January.

How many animals are in 12 days of Christmas?

Typically at the end of the 12 days, you would have received 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 40 gold rings, 42 geese laying eggs, 42 swans, 40 milking maids, 36 dancing ladies, 30 leaping lords, 22 piping pipers and 12 drumming drummers from your true love, but with the …

Is the 12 Days of Christmas about birds Catholic?

The three French hens represent faith, hope and love. The four calling birds are the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The five golden rings symbolize the first five books of the Old Testament. The six geese a-laying recall for the six days of creation.