Jamaica – The Doctor Bird (Trochilus polytmus)

Stamp Issued in 1956 (part of definitive series)

“(Author: Ian Fleming, For Your Eyes Only, Publisher 1960 Jonathan Cape Limited)

The most beautiful bird in Jamaica and some say the most beautiful in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird. The cock bird is about nine inches long, but seven inches of it are tail- two long black feathers that curve and cross each other and whose inner edges are in form of a scalloped design. The head and crest are black, the wings dark green, the long bill is scarlet and the eyes, bright and confiding, are black. The body is emerald green, so dazzling that when the sun is on the breast you see the brightest green thing in nature.  In Jamaica, birds that are loved are given nicknames.  Trochilus polytmus is called “doctor bird” because his two black streamers remind people of the black tail-coat of the old-time physician.”

This colourful opening to a book that sadly, I had never read until now, led me to research this particular bird.  According to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ,

not only is the Doctor Bird a national symbol of Jamaica, they also suggest that it is one of the most outstanding of the 320 species of humming-bird.  The JIS also states:
“These birds’ beautiful feathers have no counterpart in the entire bird population and they produce iridescent colours characteristic only of that family. In addition to these beautiful feathers, the mature male has two long tails which stream behind him when he flies. For years the doctor bird has been immortalized in Jamaican folklore and song.”

The Pre-stamped envelopes of the Birds of Canada Series

The postage stamps of the Birds of Canada series were issued annually between 1996 and 2001. There are six series altogether with four stamp designs per set, giving a total of twenty four stamps across the whole series.

Designed by Raymond Bellemare and illustrated in Acrylic by Pierre Leduc, the stamps are attractive and highly collectable. They can be found in sheet or strip form as well as individually, are common and relatively inexpensive to purchase. The 1999 (4th) and 2001 (6th) series were also issued as self-adhesive booklets. They can be a little trickier to acquire, but I’ve seen them on ebay.

Sheet of the Birds of Canada 1st Series (1996)

Burnt Fingers Again?

Fijian Definitive Overprints – Fire Sale Warning

In a message to Pacific Study Circle Society members, Bryan Jones, the editor of Pacifica the Society’s journal, has advised that Post Fiji (PF) announced in late September that there would be a “fire sale” of stock from the bird definitive overprints. (Also see: “Perplexed in the Pacific”). He reports that the sale will be made up of forty eight complete sheets of the overprints remaining, and which the Philatelic Bureau had not intended to distribute to Fijian post offices.  

Is BIOT now a “Dead Country”?

During the summer I wrote a short blog advising that the governing council of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) had recommended that the stamps of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) should no longer be recognised. (See: “Bye, bye BIOT?”) From a report in the latest edition of Stamp Magazine, I now understand that at their August Congress held in the Ivory Coast the recommendation was adopted almost unanimously.

Acceptance of the recommendation has not come as a surprise. Earlier in the year, the United Nations (UN) had ruled that Britain’s administration of the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia – which forms the substantive part of the territory – was in breach of international law. The UPU is a specialised agency of the UN.

The upshot is that the UPU will now formally cease to register and distribute stamps and postage from the territory, and that the islands must now carry the stamps and postcodes of Mauritius which has long laid claim to the islands.

At the time of writing it is unclear what the official British government response to the ruling will be. The post office in the territories is managed by the British foreign office but operated on a day-to-day basis by a private company. It is also unclear what impact this may have on the wider philatelic world. Is BIOT now just another, “dead country”? 


Part 10 – Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Bird: Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula artica)

The website of the Executive Council of Newfoundland and Labrador indicates that the Atlantic Puffin became the Provincial bird in 1991.  The website goes on to provide an overview of the characteristics of this bird:

 “With a thick orange, yellow, and grey bill and stout body, the puffin is able to fly in the air as well as swim underwater, and its razor-sharp claws allow it to dig deep burrows into the rich soil of seabird islands. It lays a single egg at the bottom of this protective burrow. Both parents nurture until the chick is ready for life at sea in late August or early September. Ninety-five per cent of North America’s Atlantic Puffins are found in this province.”[1] The Canada Government website indicates that the largest colony of the Puffins can be found on the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, south of St John’s.  The reserve comprises four small islands, which provide a home to the Puffins, as well as other seabirds, during nesting season and beyond, for the birds to raise their young. The islands are off-limits to human visitors (tourists).  

Bringing Bird Stamp Collectors Together