The hidden date for this stamp can be found in the bottom-right corner.
Collectors across Canada have come to anticipate the annual unveiling of the Birds of Canada issue. Indeed, this series, begun four years ago, is one of the most popular in the country. And the '99 slate does not disappoint! Along with four new Birds to feature (the red-winged blackbird, the Northern goshawk, the American goldfinch and the Sandhill crane), this year's issue also features a new format, the Birds of Canada Self-adhesive Booklet of 12.
A tall slate-grey, the sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) has a distinctive patch of bright red skin between its eyes and a unique trumpeting call. Standing over a metre tall, with a wingspan of two metres, sandhill cranes are birds of open habitats, nesting mostly near marshes, bogs, open muskegs, wet tundra and wet prairies. In flight, they make use of thermal updrafts and sometimes fly so high they are not visible to observers on the ground.
Pierre Leduc, noted scientific illustrator and wildlife artist from Stoneham, Quebec, created the acrylic paintings used in the Birds designs. They were adapted by designer Raymond Bellemare of Montreal. Leduc and Bellemare have created all the Birds issues released over the past four years. This year's design features a slight stylistic adjustment, however: the typographical bars have moved from the sides of the stamps, where they formerly acted as bookends for the images, to a top-bottom border configuration.