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Originally published Friday, December 7, 2012 at 5:41 AM

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Britain sees decline in Christmas birds like doves

Just try finding a partridge in a pear tree in Britain these days.

The Associated Press

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LONDON —

Just try finding a partridge in a pear tree in Britain these days.

Britain's Royal Society for Protection of Birds says the two icons of the Christmas song - grey partridges and turtle doves - are in alarming decline. It said authorities should act to prevent them from becoming just distant memories within the famed "Twelve Days of Christmas" song.

The society says the number of partridges have dropped 30 percent. Turtle doves are even worse off - with a 60 percent decline in numbers. The society warns, at this rate, the dove will face extinction by the middle of the next decade.

Society spokesman Grahame Madge said Friday that budget cuts by the British government and the European Union threaten farm programs that support wildlife like the birds.

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