By jove, he's got it?
He's really got it?
David McDonald <> wrote:
I asked the question: what is a 'colly-bird' in the
context of the traditional English song 'The Twelve
Days of Christmas':
'On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to
me four colly-birds, three French hens, two turtle
doves and a partridge in a pear tree.'
The list and I received a range of responses,
including this gem: 'A colly bird is one that perches
Don't have to guess? or do we? where that one came
from? South Australia perhaps? hahahahaha
and a number of unequivocal statements that the words
of the song are actually 'calling birds' not
colly-birds' (just sing it to yourself; the two merge
So, in the absence of a response from Competition
Winner Harvey Perkins, I decided to answer my own
question. The first edition of the Oxford English
Dictionary published the section covering 'colly' in
October 1891. It reveals that 'colly' is, or was, an
old English word meaning black, from 'coal'. And, it
says, a 'colly-bird' is the Blackbird.
So ... this Christmas you may care to sing 'four
colly-birds...' rather than 'four calling birds...',
and maybe Turdus merula will sing along with you!
Have a good one!
PO Box 1355, Woden ACT 2606, Australia
Tel: +61 2 6231 8904 (h); +61 2 6249 5618 (w)
Fax: +61 2 6249 0740
David I also think the song has 2 versions? they use
and have used the "colly-bird" usage in Yorkshire and
parts North of England? check with my friend Dicky
a cricket umpire? whilst many of us Southerners use
"Calling bird" as we always are? reminds me I must use
Optus this year to phone the USA?
Calling his bird?
Take Care and may 2000 be your best yet at all you
strive to achieve, many thanks for all this year.
John A. Gamblin
Goes off singing:
" The rain in WA falls mainly on the pilbarra plain "
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