Tuesday, December 16, 2014

White-cheeked Cotinga & Mistletoe



The White-cheeked Cotinga is a rare and local inhabitant of high elevation forests in the dry, western Andes of Peru.  Its diet consists almost entirely of berries of mistletoe.  It's the only frugivorous bird in Polylepis forests in its range, and it's thought that the White-cheeked Cotinga is likely the primary disperser of mistletoe. 


So Washington Irving, in Christmas Eve, relates the typical festivities surrounding the Twelve Days of Christmas, including kissing under the mistletoe (Washington Irving, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent). Irving continues his Christmas passage with
a footnote:

"The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked, the privilege ceases."
I hope you're enjoying the season's best,
Sue

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