Well, time is up for the Xmas competition - and very many thanks for those of you who exercised your gray matter on this little teaser. Some folks stopped by the store, some entered by phone and most - in this modern world of ours! - by email. Well, we had four winners in the end, and an awful lot of people who only got one wrong and didn't quite make it. So a big CMBO well done to you all, I am amazed how many people can accurately identify those fluffy toy birds!!
And so to the answers:
Chukar - this one caught out almost all the people who didn't quite get the answer right. Most went for Red-legged Partridge, but the overall gray color and narrow neck band with no necklace rules out that species. Incidentally, I did notice after I set the competition that the makers of these toy birds incorrectly call this a Red-legged Partridge - so apologies if you have one and looked at the label!
Oriental Turtle Dove - the left hand turtle dove picture shows an Oriental Turtle Dove. This species has larger dark centers to the mantle feathers than European Turtle Dove and the edges of these feathers are a slightly darker brown. In addition, the darker centers merge more gently into the paler margins than in the European species.
European Turtle Dove - the right hand (lower) turtle dove picture shows this species; this was my little trap for the unwary, having the two turtle doves of different species. Sad, I know, but we couldn't have everyone winning!
French Hen - a lot of people fixated on the breed of chicken, but I only wanted this to species level so I accepted any breed that folks cared to give me!
Northern Cardinal - the jury is still out on what a calling bird is (though European Blackbird is the usual answer - calling = collie = coal etc.). With a tilt to artistic license, I decided that cardinals call, and you all got this one right any way!
American Goldfinch - we couldn't use five gold rings as I wanted to stick to birds so three of the goldfinches were American birds...
European Goldfinch - ... and two of the goldfinches were European birds, just to add some spice!
Snow Goose - nice and easy with their pink bills and black 'grin'.
Trumpeter Swan - All black bill and black extending around the eye makes the swans Trumpeters, though I had a lot of communication about this one!
Once again, well done for joining in the festive fun and if I don't see you in the next few days, have a really cool yule!!