(written by a former member of the Bird Stamp Society)
Flicking through the Yvert & Tellier 2020 Catalogue for Monaco and French Overseas Territories, I came across the miniature sheet below (issued in 2006) which features three critically endangered birds of New Caledonia (Nouvelle Calédonie). I thought that it would be interesting to learn more about these three birds; and in particular, to establish if their prospects for survival had improved in the intervening 14 years. Calédoscope, the philatelic website of the New Caledonian Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT) provided a useful starting point for this article.
Written by a former BSS member
About Bearded Vultures
The Bearded Vulture is essentially a scavenger which feeds on the remains of dead mammals, birds and reptiles. Their preference is for bone marrow (and to get at this, they are adept at smashing bones from height, by dropping the larger ones on rocks); but during the mating season, they mainly feed on carrion. The Bearded Vulture is one of the most endangered species in Europe.
Within Europe, the Bearded Vulture can be found in limited numbers in the mountainous areas of Spain and France (Pyrennes), the Alpine regions of Italy, Switzerland and Austria; and in the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria); and in Greece. Just beyond Europe, it is also native in Turkey and Armenia.
In May 2022, Stamperija issued for the Niger postal authority a sheetlet of four stamps which features Endangered Birds.
The sheetlet depicts the following birds: Top-left: Giant Ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea) from the family of Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) which has “Critically Endangered” status; Top-right: Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) from the family of Falcons (Falconidae) which has “Endangered” status; Bottom-left: Golden-cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) from the family of New World Warblers (Parulida) which has “Endangered” status; and Bottom-right: Negros Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba keayi) from the family of Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae) which has “Critically Endangered” status.
The two top row birds have previously appeared on stamps: the Giant Ibis, about five times; and the Mauritius Kestrel, about 10 times. The most recent issue of the Mauritius Kestrel was by Mauritius Post, as reported in a previous blog article.
On 21 June 2022, Australian Post issued a set of two stamps that celebrate the Norfolk Island Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata). The Norfolk Island Morepork, a small, brown-mottled Owl, is an exclusive resident to the island; and is considered a distinctive sub species of the New Zealand Morepork (Ninox nouvaeseelandiae). It is one of the world’s rarest owls. Locally, the Norfolk Island Morepork owl was also known as the Boobook.
But first, before looking at the current status of the Morepork, we must begin with the stamps.
The stamp set consists of two individual stamps and a sheetlet, all of which are issued by Australia Post under the “Norfolk Island” country designation.
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.