Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day Postcard

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
After the delirious chaos of Christmas Day and all the joy it brings--especially getting to see the kids open their gifts a squeal with delight--we settled back into our quiet routine here on the farm. Writing, cleaning, cooking simple meals, and watching the birds at the feeders.

Today is known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom. Traditionally Boxing Day was the day you gave a gift to those who worked for you (folks who delivered the mail, cleaned you home, your servants, etc.). The name comes from the tradition of servants bringing a box on Christmas Day to their employers who would then place coins or other valuable gifts in them. Then the servants got Boxing Day off (having worked on Christmas Day serving the Lord and Lady their hassenpfeffer).

Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day, or Hunt the Wren Day, the day in English folklore when the boys in a village would catch a wren and take it around to each house, introducing the tiny bird to all. This was to ensure a happy, healthy new year and a bountiful harvest of crops. And also to ask each household for a donation of money. I can't help but think about the poor wren--terrorized to the point of death I'm sure. Perhaps this is why the villages still observing this odd custom now use a stuffed wren instead of a wild-caught bird.

It's cold here today and the birds seem to sense that winter is no longer playing around. They are waiting at the suet dough dish in the morning when we get up, with what could only be described as imploring looks on their faces. When the feeder is filled, they chow down like so many 400-pound men in a Belgian waffle-eating contest (which actually aired on ESPN last night!).

It's one small consolation for winter's desolate embrace--the birds crowd the feeders and seem very appreciative of our generosity.

This is, after all the season of giving. Happy Boxing Day!

Thus far it's been only our resident Carolina chickadees at the feeders. No black-cappeds yet.

The feeders are slamming these late-December days. It's a sight to see.

Caveat: No wrens were harmed in the creation of this post.


On December 26, 2006 at 11:00 PM Susan Gets Native said...

Nice pictures!
I wouldn't know if a black-capped was at our feeders. Aside from their call, have any ID tips?
I don't expect them, being this far south of the "border" up in Columbus. Is it likely that I could get them?

On December 27, 2006 at 11:13 AM Rondeau Ric said...

Merry Christmas eh?

Us folks in the frozen north need an extra day to recover from the festivities.

I think we should give up
Boxing Day and go for two days at New Years when we really need it.


On December 27, 2006 at 11:22 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Too right, Rondeau!

Susan: You and I both live well south of the line of demarcation between black-cappeds and Carolinas. We get one or two every few years, when the northern winter is fierce and the seed crop is poor.

Look for the hockey stick of white in the secondaries of the black-capped. It's voice is huskier and call slower, too--tnat's often our first clue that a BCCH is at our feeders--we hear it.

On December 27, 2006 at 9:55 PM Susan Gets Native said...

Thanks, Bill.
"Hockey stick"...that will definitely "stick" in my memory.

On December 29, 2006 at 2:56 PM Patrick Belardo said...

Hassenpfeffer... Isn't that where Laverne & Shirley worked?

On March 23, 2012 at 8:41 AM Wallpaper said...
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