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! When we think of birds of prey, we often seize on images of giant predators wheeling in the sky like fighter aircraft searching for targets. But the American kestrel is in fact not much larger than an American robin. Don't be fooled by the size. This raptor is armed with string taloned feet and a powerful hooked bill. A tooth-like projection on the upper part of the beak allows the kestrel to tear apart small birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Insects are also consumed and when plentiful, grasshoppers constitute the staple food of the kestrel. This small predator hunts over open country and often hovers above one spot. It can be seen in fields, meadows, prairies, burntlands, woodland openings and cities. The kestrel often perches on dead-topped trees, fence posts, poles and buildings and when it perches it flicks its tail repeatedly. Kestrels are not fastidious about their accommodation. Mating begins in spring but little attempt is made to build a nest. Instead the American kestrel will make use of a handy woodpecker hole, natural cavity, or any recess in a building or bank burrow. Four or five eggs are incubated by the female in a month. The male feeds the female during this period, then both parents share the task of feeding the fledglings until they are old enough to fly. 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, 9-11.
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