The Twelve Days of Christmas is a familiar traditional carol, and it includes many fowl. Day Three delivers Three French Hens, such as this Houdan bantam hen.
Houdans are an old French breed with five toes, like the English Dorking, to which it is probably related, and Chinese Silkie, to which it is not. Most are Mottled, like this hen, but a White variety is also recognized. Breeding the black mottling out of the white feathers is a challenge to Houdan breeders.
I once owned a Mottled Houdan rooster, whom we called M'sieur. He did a lot of bossing the girls around, although they took little notice of him. He went into a breeding program and the current owner reports he has become quite aggressive. She enters the coop holding a garbage can lid to protect herself.
Perhaps that's why the gifts in the carol specify French hens.
Thanks to Barry Koffler of Feathersite, www.feathersite.com, for this picture.