All posts by Steven Ardron

Collecting interests: completely random and utterly disorganised. My interests are stimulated more by acquiring knowledge about the birds that are featured on the stamps that attract my interest. I also like to learn about the artists that have designed the stamps. Basically, I follow what I like when I see when I see it, rather than follow a pre-determined or a defined collecting path. Not very helpful, I know. Amongst this chaos are stamps from Belgium, French Overseas Territories, British Overseas Territories, Australia and its Dependencies and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 7 – Prince Edward Island

Provincial Bird: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 

Prince Edward Island (PEI) adopted the Blue Jay in 1977 following a province wide vote.  The General Assembly of PEI confirmed adoption of the Blue Jay in legislation, which is currently consolidated in Part One of the Provincial Emblems and Honours Act:

2. Avian emblem: The bird known scientifically as Cyanocitta cristata (L.) and popularly known as the blue jay is adopted as and shall be the avian emblem of the province. 1997,c.36,s.2.”

 Under this Act, PEI also adopted the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as its animal; the Red Oak (Quercus rubra L.) as its tree; and the Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) as the floral emblem of the Province.

eBird describes the Blue Jay thus:“Blue above, light gray below. Black and white markings on wings and tail. Larger than a robin, smaller than a crow. Crest and long tail. Noisy and conspicuous in areas with large trees. Regularly visits feeders.

St Pierre et Miquelon 2021 Issue

Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)

The 2021 addition to the long-running birds series from St Pierre et Miquelon is the Purple Sandpiper. 

One initial curiosity about this stamp, on which the French Monthly “L’Écho de la Timbrologie” sought clarification – from the image that was sent to them for the magazine – is that the original 2021 stamp included a small spelling error in the Latin name of the bird, with the text on the stamp reading: “Calidris martima”.  It would appear that at first, no-one spotted the missing “i”: a minor hiccup in the proofing process that for us collectors might have made the stamp a bit more alluring.   However, from the image provided on La Poste’s website (see below), it would appear that La Poste ordered a reprint of the stamp with the correction to the spelling error.

Philippe Lahiton created (photographed) the Purple sandpiper stamp and as far as I am aware (though I am missing one or two from this series) he has not previously been involved in this series.

The information from St Pierre et Miquelon suggests that this particular stamp and the previous one from 2020 are part of a mini-series featuring waders.

La Poste has printed 30,000 of these stamps for St Pierre et Miquelon.   They are available in sheets of 25.       eBird Canada says about this bird:

“Hardy denizen of rocky coastlines regularly pounded by heavy surf. In winter, often in flocks foraging among large rocks. Generally dark grayish; purple sheen only visible at close distance in good light. Bill droops slightly and has an orange base. In winter, legs are yellowish-orange and belly is white with gray spots. Rarely seen on remote Arctic breeding grounds. Breeding plumage more brownish with contrasting dark speckling on back and breast.

Isle of Man

Europa 2021 Endangered National Species
The Calf of Man and 70th Anniversary of the Manx National Trust


On 12 April 2021, the Isle of Man Post Office issued a set of 10 stamps which simultaneously commemorate:

  • The Europa 2021 “Endangered National Species” stamp theme, with one stamp (NVI “EU”), illustrating a Manx Sheerwater (Puffinus puffinus) chick;
  • The 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Manx National Trust (MNT); and
  • The Calf of Man nature and conservation reserve, which is managed by the MNT. 

Five of the stamps have a 1st NVI, for use on postage within the Isle of Man and valid for post to the UK; and five stamps with the “EU” NVI. 

There is an additional stamp featuring a bird; and this is the EU stamp illustrating the Calf of Man Bird Observatory and the Common Whitethroat: more of which below. 

The consultancy EJC Design developed the stamp illustrations, each stamp being available in sheets of 20.  The printing is in offset lithography and each stamp measures 40.00 x 31.66mm in portrait format.  The set is available in a presentation pack (limited to 1,500), and the usual First Day Cover (FDC) is available (limited to 2,250).  The Europa 2021 stamp also has its own FDC and miniature sheet (see below).  Isle of Man Post Office has also issued a set of postcards to accompany the stamp issue, which carry enlarged illustrations of each stamp.

The Manx Shearwater

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 5 – Manitoba

Provincial Birds: Great Gray/Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)

In 1987, under “The Coat of Arms, Emblems and Manitoba Tartan Act”, the Manitoba Legislature decided to adopt the Great Gray Owl as the Provincial bird. The exact text of the Act states: 

“5(2) The bird ornithologically known as Strix nebulosa and commonly called the “Great Gray Owl” is adopted as and is the avian emblem of Manitoba.”

Nature North says about the Great Gray Owl:

“…… A rare bird, this species has been seen more regularly in parts of Manitoba than elsewhere in Canada. It is thus fitting that on July 16, 1987, by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, the Great Gray Owl was officially named the Provincial Bird Emblem. Elevation of the status of the Great Gray Owl from unprotected in 1962 to provincial bird emblem in 1987, is in recognition of owls and other birds of prey as a valuable and treasured part of the natural world, and worthy of protection.”

Nature North also goes on to say that the Great Gray Owl is larger than the Great Horned Owl (the Provincial bird of Alberta) and the Snowy Owl (the Provincial bird of Québec).  The males and females of the species look the same, but as is common with birds of prey, the female is larger than the male: the male owl weighs up to 1.2 kg, whereas the female weighs up to 1.8 kg.  The Great Gray Owl has bright yellow eyes and a broad round face, with marked white chin patches that are a key identifying characteristic of this bird. 

The Canada Government website states that the Great Gray Owl is the largest owl in North America, with a wingspan of over 1.3-1.5 metres.  The Great Gray Owl is a Manitoba resident all year round.