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! Those who make their home on Canada's east coast are well acquainted with the Atlantic puffin. The only puffin of normal occurrence on Canada's Atlantic shores, this happy water bird is easily recognized by its triangular multi-coloured bill and head markings. The current population of this species in Canada is about 300,000 pairs, and this impish looking seabird is honoured as Newfoundland's provincial bird. Once called the sea parrot by sailors roaming both the North and South Atlantic, the Atlantic puffin takes up residence on the east coast of Canada during breeding season and can be seen along the edges of southern Labrador, northern and eastern Newfoundland, southeastern Quebec, the Magdalen Islands, Cape Breton's northeastern tip, the southern tip of Nova Scotia and on New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy islands. Coming ashore only to reproduce, puffins nest either in a chamber dug at the end of long burrow into grassy slope or in a crevice or a cranny in the rock of a cliff. There, the female lays a single egg and shares the brooding with her mate for more than 40 days. About 45 days after hatching, the chick is ready to begin its own career at sea. A powerful swimmer but no flying ace, the puffin has difficulty getting airborne at all unless a strong headwind is blowing onshore. 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. 5-8, 11.
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