Flightless Birds on Stamps

Flightless Birds as national icons

While less than 40% of all bird species have appeared on stamps to date, over 90% of flightless birds have featured on stamps. The reason may be found in the fact that, being flightless, they are ever-present in the countries where they appear, combined with their distinctiveness and their popularity for their survival against the odds under increasing human and environmental pressures.

Member Graham Uren’s assessment of 63 living bird species which are flightless include the 18 penguins, the 13 ratite species, 17 island dwelling rails, their close cousin the Kagu, and a variety of species which make up the other 15. Of the total, only 4 rails and 2 grebes do not feature on stamps. This does not include extinct species.

Not only have flightless birds captured the imagination of the stamp designers but some of them have been emblematic of their country for many years and, accordingly, have featured on definitive stamps from the early years when national symbols began to replace rulers’ heads as the standard design.

Along with the Kiwi of New Zealand (in the 1898 Pictorials), the Emu of Australia (in the KGV “He the Ostrich of Ethiopia (in the 1919 Animals and Rulers), the Kagu of New Caledonia is no exception.

Read Graham’s article …. click on the title below

The Kagu, an Iconic Flightless Bird


Penguins are flightless seabirds that live almost exclusively in the Southern hemisphere. The exception is the endangered Galapagos Penguin, found north of the Equator in the Galapagos Islands, mainly on Isabela and Fernandina islands but also found on Floreana, Santiago and Bartolome.

Member Chris Marsh has a written an overview of this delightful group of aquatic flightless birds.

Read his report here

Emu and Cassowary

The Cassowary is a very large flightless three-toed, terrestrial bird with a long neck and long leg. Their nearest relatives are the Emus with both families being among the oldest found exclusively in Australasia. The two families are considered to have had a common ancestor with characteristics allied to the Ostrich, Rheas and other Ratites.

2 BSS members submitted articles on these flightless birds for the December 2019 ‘Flight’ magazine.

Their article is available to read here

The Kiwi

The national icon of New Zealand and unofficial national emblem, the Kiwi is a unique and curious flightless bird. Their Conservation Status varies between species from ‘Recovering’ to ‘Nationally Critical’.

Member Carol Mitchell provides an insight into this strange flightless bird here

Bringing Bird Stamp Collectors Together