the Province of Albert adopted the Great-horned owl as its bird emblem in 1977, following a province-wide children’s vote. This owl is an Alberta resident; and apparently its choice reflected concern about threatened wildlife, both in Alberta and worldwide.
The Alberta Legislature has endorsed the selection of the Great-horned owl in Statute:
Emblems of Alberta Act (Revised Statutes 2000): “Official bird 6. The bird known scientifically as Bubo virginianus and commonly known as the “great horned owl” is hereby adopted as the official bird of Alberta. RSA 1980 cE-8 s6“.
The Great-horned owl is a native resident of North America, but can also be found in Central America and Southern parts of South America. Within North America, eBird Canada says of the Great-horned Owl:“Large and widespread owl with distinctive ear tufts. Found in a variety of habitats from dense woods to prairie and deserts with at least some trees. Also, found in wooded towns and suburbs. Typically, well-camouflaged dark brown overall, but varies in color. Often engages in haunting duets, with males and females hooting back and forth. Preys upon a variety of animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles“.
Saskatchewan adopted the Sharp-tailed Grouse as its Provincial bird in 1945. I have not been able to go back that far, but I did find in the Saskatchewan Legislation database the consolidated “Provincial Emblems and Honours Act 1988-89” which was last updated in 2019. Part II, Article 7 of that Act states:
“Bird Emblem: The bird known ornithologically as Tympanachus phasianellus and called the “sharp-tailed grouse” is the bird emblem of Saskatchewan. 1995, c.29, s.4.”
The Canadian Government website suggests that the Sharp-tailed Grouse is known colloquially as a “Prairie Chicken”.
eBird Canada says about this bird:“Pale grayish-brown chickenlike bird, found in open spaces with mix of grasses and shrubs. Often on the ground or perched high in trees. Look for whitish tail with pointed tip, slight crest, wings spotted with white, and sparsely marked pale belly. In early spring, males gather at display site and dance to attract females: look for tail cocked up, wings held out, and purple patch of exposed skin on neck. Sexes alike. Most similar to prairie-chickens but note paler belly and pointed tail.“
The distribution map on eBird for the Sharp-tailed Grouse indicates that it is a native resident of North East and Central Canada (but not the Eastern seaboard provinces) and the Northern, Central States of the USA. It is also present in parts of Alaska.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse is a bird that is hunted by man. The online magazine “Project Upland” describes aspects of this bird:
“The is one seriously charismatic bird. If you’ve ever seen videos of sharp-tails doing their tell-tale dancing competitions, you were likely hooked immediately. They are fascinating birds to watch and to hunt. Furthermore, the open habitats they live in are equally beautiful and captivating in their own way.”
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.“
An article in a recent edition of ABPS News has alerted collectors to the impact of Brexit on VAT and buying material online from EU countries.
Buyers of philatelic items on eBay are now discovering that 20% VAT is being added to the cost of their purchases. They have advised that Value Added Tax (VAT) generally applies to purchases by UK consumers, and prices on eBay.co.uk are shown inclusive of VAT. However, from the beginning of 2021, eBay is now required to collect VAT on certain orders delivered to UK addresses. This includes orders sent from outside the UK up to the value of £135 but also orders where the item is located in the UK, although the seller is not UK based. For orders over £135 imported to the UK, the purchaser may need to pay VAT as part of clearing the parcel through customs.
Additionally Delcampe, probably the leading website for collectibles have now advised that a new European law will come into force in July of this year. This will require marketplaces such as Delcampe to collect VAT on goods sold to private individuals by professional sellers from outside the EU, for any shipment of maximum 150 Euros.
Delcampe have issued the following advice to their customers:
“This law, which was originally intended to come into force on 1st January 2021 has been postponed to 1st July 2021. However, the United Kingdom has adopted a similar law applying to marketplaces such as Delcampe which requires them to collect VAT for goods sold by non-British professional dealers to UK citizens, for any shipment below €150 (£135). The entry into force of this law is in place on 1st January 2021, leading to a distortion between the two systems, when this should have been avoided. This leads to some uncertainties which unfortunately do not allow us at this stage to tell you exactly what will be the steps you will have to take and what actions Delcampe can take as an online platform. We are currently waiting for answers from the European Union and our legal advisers. We will of course not miss to inform you as soon as we have clear information to give you.” ABPS reported that one European dealer had said that the new rules now made it impossible to sell items at less than €150 to the UK because unlike eBay, Delcampe will not automatically collect VAT, and that the alternative would be to register his business for VAT in the UK which was unrealistic. Effectively, it now seems likely that Delcampe will cease to be usable for UK collectors unless the purchase price is more than £135.
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.”