On 29 January 2019, the French Polynesia Post Office issued two bird stamps in a set entitled “Endangered Species”. One of the birds featured in this stamp set was the Tahiti Monarch (Pomarea nigra). This article is about that bird and the related stamp.
This is the first and only issue of a stamp featuring this bird.
Having already written a rather sombre article about endangered birds in New Caledonia, it was a pleasure to be able to pen a positive story about an endangered species from French Polynesia (Tahiti). Here, “Manu” the Ornithological Society of Polynesia (https://www.manu.pf/), has a story of steady progress to report in protecting the future of the Tahiti Monarch, a Critically Endangered (CR) species which is endemic to Tahiti (French Polynesia). In the Tahitian language the Monarch is known as ’Ōmama’o.
The Tahiti Monarch is a relatively small bird, at 15cm and the adult bird (over four years) is completely metallic black in colour. The beak is grey and the legs and feet are bluish-grey. As a juvenile (one to two years old), the Monarch is orange-brown. As the young bird gets older, the plumage starts to turn darker brown and then black, this transformation starting first on the back and on the wings, gradually spreading to the rest of the body.
The IGPC website does offer a few opportunities to explore what I have termed incongruous bird stamp issues. Some of these are reviewed in this article.
Inca Tern (Larosterna inca)
On 16 May 2019, Guyana issued a set of five stamps that celebrated the Inca Tern. Both the souvenir sheet, which features the $800 value; and the four stamps printed in a second sheet (with values of $100, $300, $500 and $700) are impressive in the design and quality of the photographic images. A worthy addition to the global catalogue of bird stamps, I would have thought.
But there is, of course, a clue in the title. The American Bird Conservancy website – where the Inca Tern featured as bird of the week back in 18 July 2014 – describes the usual habitat of this bird as being along the Western edge of South America, from Peru all the way down to Chile. Its territorial range doesn’t stray much beyond that coast. That is because its natural food source is in the cold waters of the Humboldt [or Peru] Current that flows northwards from the South Pacific Ocean up the Western coastline of South America.
Having completed a rather depressing study of New Caledonia’s endangered species as featured on bird stamps issued by the Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT), I thought that it might be more uplifting to look for some rather more positive messages amongst the stamp issues. The New Caledonia endangered species article will feature in the December 2020 issue of Flight.
I have this FDC from 2013 which features Masked Boobies (Sula dactylatra) on and flying over the Entrecasteaux Reefs, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Lagoons of New Caledonia.
UNESCO added the Lagoons to the World Heritage list in 2008. OPT commemorated this major event with a miniature sheet of six stamps, one 75F value of which also featured a Masked Booby.
The Lagoons which make up the World Heritage Site comprise six marine clusters, which are in turn also protected by marine and terrestrial buffer zones.