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! The largest of Canada's woodpeckers, this glorious bird takes its name from the "pileus" or crest which covers the top of his head. Unmistakable both at rest and in flight, the pileated woodpecker is as big as a crow, patterned in black and white and topped with its conspicuous bright red pointed crest. At home in forests and mature woodlands but not opposed to city living, this remarkable creature is superbly adapted to its role - that of climbing trunks and branches and digging out wood-boring insects with its bill. Its legs are short, and its claws sharp and well suited to climbing. The skull is thick, heavy and shock mounted, enabling a hammer-like thrust of the bill which is a natural chisel for piercing tree bark. Nest building is a family affair for the woodpecker, with the male and female sharing the duties of excavation and construction over the month it takes to build a home. A nest is built by digging out a cavity in a tree 30-60 centimetres wide, then covering the floor with woodchip. Three to five eggs are laid and the parents take turn incubating the eggs for just under three weeks. The female tends to this task during the day, and the male stands watch by night. A month after hatching, the chicks are ready to leave the nest. 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. 5-7, 11.
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