No. Partridges don’t live in trees.
To answer this question, let’s begin with where the song The Twelve Days of Christmas comes from.
Vox explains that the first known version appeared in a 1780 children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief in Britain, but some historians believe that it may have originated in France.
So, we’d be looking at French or possibly English partridges and pear trees.
The partridge in the song is thought by some to be the red-legged partridge, also called the French partridge. The species was introduced from France into England in the 1700s.
Knox News further explains that “Red-legged partridges are more likely than England’s native gray partridges to leave the ground and fly up and perch in a tree. … But they seldom fly up into trees unless threatened.”
Where do partridges live?
Partridges generally live in grasslands, and they forage and roost on the ground. Furthermore, they exclusively nest on the ground. Pears are also not among the known food items eaten by partridges.
So, could you give someone a partridge in a pear tree?
It seems unlikely that a partridge (French or otherwise) would stay in a pear tree long enough for it to be dug out of the ground and presented as a gift.
You might wrap a large bag around the pear tree, capturing the partridge in the tree before removing it. But really you would be giving a gift of a partridge and a pear tree, not a partridge in a pear tree.
I think we can confidently say that, no, it doesn’t seem very practical.
What about the other gifts?
- Turtle Doves – Sure why not?
- French Hens – Yep.
- Calling Birds – Okay.
- Golden Rings – Expensive, but sure.
- Geesa A-Laying – Perhaps, if you’re timing is right.
- Maids A-Milking – No. That’s slavery.
- Ladies Dancing – Slavery is still not okay.
- Lords A-Leaping – Still bad.
- Pipers Piping – People are not property.
- Drummers Drumming – No, dammit.