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.
the Province of Albert adopted the Great-horned owl as its bird emblem in 1977, following a province-wide children’s vote. This owl is an Alberta resident; and apparently its choice reflected concern about threatened wildlife, both in Alberta and worldwide.
The Alberta Legislature has endorsed the selection of the Great-horned owl in Statute:
Emblems of Alberta Act (Revised Statutes 2000): “Official bird 6. The bird known scientifically as Bubo virginianus and commonly known as the “great horned owl” is hereby adopted as the official bird of Alberta. RSA 1980 cE-8 s6“.
The Great-horned owl is a native resident of North America, but can also be found in Central America and Southern parts of South America. Within North America, eBird Canada says of the Great-horned Owl:“Large and widespread owl with distinctive ear tufts. Found in a variety of habitats from dense woods to prairie and deserts with at least some trees. Also, found in wooded towns and suburbs. Typically, well-camouflaged dark brown overall, but varies in color. Often engages in haunting duets, with males and females hooting back and forth. Preys upon a variety of animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles“.
Provincial Birds: Great Gray/Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)
In 1987, under “The Coat of Arms, Emblems and Manitoba Tartan Act”, the Manitoba Legislature decided to adopt the Great Gray Owl as the Provincial bird. The exact text of the Act states:
“5(2) The bird ornithologically known as Strix nebulosa and commonly called the “Great Gray Owl” is adopted as and is the avian emblem of Manitoba.”
Nature North says about the Great Gray Owl:
“…… A rare bird, this species has been seen more regularly in parts of Manitoba than elsewhere in Canada. It is thus fitting that on July 16, 1987, by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, the Great Gray Owl was officially named the Provincial Bird Emblem. Elevation of the status of the Great Gray Owl from unprotected in 1962 to provincial bird emblem in 1987, is in recognition of owls and other birds of prey as a valuable and treasured part of the natural world, and worthy of protection.”
Nature North also goes on to say that the Great Gray Owl is larger than the Great Horned Owl (the Provincial bird of Alberta) and the Snowy Owl (the Provincial bird of Québec). The males and females of the species look the same, but as is common with birds of prey, the female is larger than the male: the male owl weighs up to 1.2 kg, whereas the female weighs up to 1.8 kg. The Great Gray Owl has bright yellow eyes and a broad round face, with marked white chin patches that are a key identifying characteristic of this bird.
The Canada Government website states that the Great Gray Owl is the largest owl in North America, with a wingspan of over 1.3-1.5 metres. The Great Gray Owl is a Manitoba resident all year round.