On the third and fourth days of Christmas - more birds

One of the birds that have flown. Picture: Nicholas Brown

One of the birds that have flown. Picture: Nicholas Brown - Credit: citizenside.com

... my true love sent to me, three French hens. Day four, colly birds.

Many oeufs from les French hens. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Many oeufs from les French hens. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2011

Yes, after two days of being gifted bird life, yet more of our feathered friends are arriving. Little does the delivery company know it’s going to need a bigger van.

The best we can hope for on day three is that les French hens are femelles rather than poules. Femelles are females and thus, we might get eggs... bearing in mind the amour who is receiving these gifts will eventually have 30 French hens. Maybe there’s an option to start up a business, always assuming the foxes don’t get there first.

What sound do French hens make? Well it seems that rather than cluck-cluck, they go: “cotcotcodet,” an onomatopoeic word, if ever I saw one.

Is there an actual French hen, as opposed to one that went from East Anglia to the Sorbonnes to learn the language? Well, there is a French breed called Faverolles (wikipedia.com) which was developed in the 1860s in northern, near the he villages of Faverolles. They were originally bred for eggs and meat but are now primarily raised for exhibition.

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When Faverolles reached the UK in 1886 (possibly ordered by someone’s true love?) British breeders developed a type of Faverolles with longer, higher raised tail feathers than their German and French Cousins. Fortunately for the true love, Faverolles is a gentle breed.

You’d have thought she or he would have enough avian life by now but it is a while yet before flights of imagination kick in.

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Day four and here are the colly birds (aka calling birds). It sounds intriguing but, actually, it’s simply a blackbird. Now blackbirds have been known to proliferate in lyrics. In the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, four and twenty blackbirds were baked in a pie for the king and, when the crust was cut, they sang. Outdoing, that, the ardent lover will be sending over 36... a pie and a half. Blackbirds are a common sight in gardens all year round. Their distinctive song can be heard in the countryside and in towns. In my neighbourhood, you sometimes hear them singing at night - tricked by streetlamps into thinking it’s daytime. To be honest, the best thing to do with them, when they arrive in batches of four today and over the next eight days, is to let them fly straight out of the box and into the sky, free as... er... a bird.

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