Date of Issue
January 9, 1996
Birds of Canada
Series Time Span
1996 - 2001
Perforation or Dimension
Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.
Designed by Raymond Bellemare. Based on a painting by Pierre Leduc.
There's nothing like nature and wildlife to win the admiration and interest of stamp collectors. The opening release of the 1996 program on January 9, 1996 is a remarkably beautiful set of four stamps and postal stationery depicting birds of Canada. Likeness of each bird in a natural setting have been rendered in acrylic by Pierre Leduc, a celebrated scientific illustrator and wildlife artist from Stoneham, Quebec. Using these artworks, Raymond Bellemare of Montreal has designed each of the images in a way to maintain the simple integrity of the artwork while maximizing the impact of the image in its miniature form. To launch the 1996 stamp program with an issue that was both accurate and beautiful, the philatelic team from Canada Post Corporation deferred to the experts. Under the guidance of ornithologist Dr. Henri Ouellet of Hull, Quebec, a careful selection of birds was made to reflect both geographic balance and a broad range of natural classifications. The result will be seen in this first of a three-year series, featuring a spectacular airborne quintet of the pileated woodpecker, Atlantic puffin, harlequin duck, ruby-throated hummingbird and American kestrel. Of particular interest to collectors, these images will be available in a variety of special collectible configurations. Read on to learn more about this beautiful issue, which features a unique Canadian philatelic first! There are few sights more serene than the hovering of an iridescent hummingbird in the sun-dappled corner of a flower garden. Delicate, purposeful and aeronautically gifted, hummingbirds are easily recognized by their small size, brilliant iridescent plumage and aerial stunts which include hovering and flying in reverse. In flight, their wings move so rapidly (about 2,000 times per minute) that they produce the humming from which these minute birds take their name. Minute they may be, but lazy they're not. Weighting in at an average 3.3 grams per bird, these tiny creatures migrate annually between Canada and Central America! Of the five species of hummingbird found in Canada, the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only specie seen from Alberta eastward. Although originally found only in forests and woodlands, hummingbirds are not shy of humans, frequenting flower gardens where they feed almost constantly upon nectar and tiny insects. Watching them in flight is a delight to all, especially around breeding time when the male puts on a spectacular performance during courtship, flying before the object of his affections in arcs ten metres wide as if suspended on a pendulum. When breeding is complete, the female lays two pea-sized eggs in a nest constructed of plant down, cobwebs and lichen saddled on a tree limb. Stamps in the Birds of Canada series will be available as uncut press sheets, with a special limited quantity of 1,000 numbered and signed by both the artist and designer. These unique sheets feature 5 panes of the birds issue. The stamps will also be available as a miniature diamond-shaped pane of 12, as well as a regular counter (field) pane of 12 without the large selvedge.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1996, p. 5-6, 8-9, 11.
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