(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.
This new permanent value international postage stamp was designed by Thierry Mordant, an artist who has created many illustrations and various postage stamps for New Caledonia, France and the Principality of Monaco.On this new stamp, two masked boobies (Sula dactylatra) wearing Christmas beanie hats are engaged in the vital task of carrying traditional seasonal gifts from the shores of New Caledonia.
These large seabirds are both striking and graceful, with their white and black plumage, yellow beaks and black masks around beak and eyes. They are quite rare within the area covered by New Caledonia’s lagoon. Masked boobies prefer to nest on remote islands and islets (Carey, Chesterfield, Entrecasteaux, Matthew and Hunter), and are expert freefalling plunge divers. They can plunge dive into deep water from a height of over 30 metres to pick off prey from schools of fish or catch large squids!