Category Archives: New Content

National Colours In Nature

I thought that this issue from Belgium was interesting in that it is features two birds that were not designed by André Buzin:

This sheet of five stamps is designed to illustrate the colours of the national flag: Black, Red and Yellow (hence the reference to “La Nature Tricolore” in the French title for this issue).

The Miniature Sheet of five stamps is on sale at €10.70, with each stamp valued at €2.14 for non-priority domestic postage up to 100g (i.e., equivalent to second class postage here).

Technical details: Sheet dimensions: Width 165mm x 220mm Height.  Perforations: 11.5.  Printing: Offset. Printer: bpost Philately and Stamps Printing.  Designer: Marijke Meersman.

The two birds featured show:

  • Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) [Width 40mm x 50mm Height]
  • Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) [Width 30mm x 50mm Height]

The Red Junglefowl is the bird that appears on the flag of Wallonia:

This design is based upon one developed by Pierre Paulus (1913) for the region of Wallonia.

In its federal structure, Belgium has three geographical regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital City Region.  The Belgian Constitution also provides for three linguistic communities: the French speaking Community, the Flemish speaking Community and a German speaking Community.

Acknowledgements: bpost for the technical details and Kjell Scharning for the Latin names. Also the Belgian Senate website for the Belgian Constitution; and the official Wallonia information site.

BIRD SYMBOLS OF CANADA

Part 12 – Yukon

Provincial Bird: Northern or Common Raven (Corvus corax)

The Canadian Government website indicates that the Yukon adopted the Northern Raven in 1985 as its Territorial Bird.   The website goes on to say:

“The Northern Raven is seen everywhere in Yukon. It is a very intelligent bird and an opportunistic feeder, feasting on everything from carrion to groceries left in the back of pick-up trucks.

The raven is the largest member of the crow family and has a body length of up to 70 centimetres.The raven is called “crow” by Yukon First Nations people and is the subject of many stories passed from generation to generation.”

There is specific legislation – the Raven Act – in which the Yukon Legislature adopted the Northern Raven as its bird: Official bird 1 The bird popularly known as the northern raven and known biologically as the common raven (Corvus corax, sub-species principalis) is adopted as the official bird of the Yukon. S.Y. 2002, c.187, s.1.”

Colombia – Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti)

Introduction

Wandering through the website last year of the World Land Trust (WLT), the international organisation and charity that exists to “protect the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre” I came across a section that deals with threatened wildlife, including birds at risk; and the work that the WLT is doing to help support that particular species.  The one bird that caught my interest was the Blue-billed Curassow, native of northern Colombia.  This is a Critically Endangered bird, native solely to Colombia and which is threatened by human activity, notably:

  • Loss of forest habitat at a rate of between 2-7 per cent a year, through conversion to farm land (cocoa, coffee and marijuana);
  • Poaching of birds for meat and eggs as well as hunting for the pet trade;
  • Loss of habitat through gold mining activities to the East of the range. 

In short, the greatest threat to the continued existence of this bird is human economic activity.  Its habitat is now limited to five small pockets of northern Colombia, where tropical lowland forests still remain.

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 11 – Northwest Territories (NWT)

Provincial Bird: The Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

The Northwest Territories adopted the Gyrfalcon in 1990 as its Provincial bird.  The Territorial Emblems and Honours Act consolidates this status:

“Bird emblem 7. The bird known ornithologically as Falco rusticolus and called “gyrfalcon” is the bird emblem of the Northwest Territories.

The Northwest Legislative Assembly website goes on to explain the characteristics of the Gyrfalcon:

“The gyrfalcon is the largest and most magnificent of the falcons and breeds throughout the tundra, including all the Arctic islands. Gyrfalcons usually winter in the North and during that season can be found anywhere in the Northwest Territories. They range in color from white through shades of grey and brown to almost black. Darker birds are more common in the NWT. Gyrfalcons eat mostly ptarmigan, but also ground squirrels, seabirds, waterfowl, and arctic hares. They are expert hunters, and extremely fast and powerful fliers.

eBird Canada suggests that the Gyr Falcon is a relatively uncommon bird, even in Canada:

“Breeds on cliffs on Arctic tundra; winters in large open areas. Never common even on breeding grounds; rare everywhere in the continental U.S.

Canada Post has issued two stamps which feature the Gyrfalcon.   The first of these was in 2003, a single design stamp that was printed as part of a self-adhesive booklet of six stamps. 

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)