StampNews.com is glad to present the second issue of Canada Post’s three-year Birds of Canada stamp series that celebrates the diversity of the country’s avian life. This five-stamp issue features provincial and territorial birds from across the country.
These avian emblems include the stately great gray owl (Manitoba), a silent and deadly hunter; the imposing gyrfalcon (Northwest Territories), the world’s largest falcon; the agile osprey (Nova Scotia), which executes dramatic dives to catch fish; the regal common loon, a true Canadian icon (Ontario); and the boisterous blue jay (Prince Edward Island), herald of spring.
Designer Mike Savage, of Signals Design in Vancouver, struck a balance between new and old elements for this soaring sequel. Variations in colour and background freshen the look, while many design aspects echo those of last year’s stamps. Illustrator Keith Martin returned with a similar style. To portray the unique forms of his feathered subjects, he took a deep dive into their lives – immersing himself in photos and videos to understand the mechanics of each in flight. With support from avian expert David Gray, he incorporated the complexities of each bird’s markings, through a number of iterations.
“I was struck by the similarities between the three large birds of prey: the great gray owl, the gyrfalcon and the osprey,” says Keith Martin. “I was fascinated by the subtleties in their wing feather patterns. Their nuances make each bird unique and beautiful.”
The images in this latest series are:
Blue jay (Prince Edward Island) - Often found in their natural habitat of forests across southern Canada, from Alberta to the Atlantic, blue jays are also adapted to many environments, including urban and suburban areas. The blue jay, with its distinctive colouring and largely mysterious migration patterns, can be spotted year-round in Prince Edward Island.
Gyrfalcon (Northwest Territories) - The largest falcons in the world, gyrfalcons are fierce predators who typically breed in the Arctic. When hunting, the gyrfalcon approaches its prey at breathtaking speeds, hugging ground contours until it strikes. The gyrfalcon varies in plumage colouring, from pure white, common to those in the high Artic, to dark grey-brown with white streaks.
Common loon (Ontario) - While clumsy and awkward on their feet, common loons can swim immediately after hatching and are adept at diving under water in search of prey. Commonly associated with the solitude and beauty of Canada's wilderness, the striking black-and-white feathered birds can be found in rivers and lakes across Ontario, and feature prominently in Indigenous legends.
Great gray owl (Manitoba) - Great gray owls camouflage themselves in the stillness of Manitoba's mixed-woods and coniferous forests, and usually hunt near dawn or dusk by listening and watching from a perch. The great gray owl is Canada's largest owl, and one of the largest in the world, though dense, fluffy plumage make them appear more substantial than they are.
Osprey (Nova Scotia) - Sometimes mistaken for bald eagles, ospreys are superb at catching fish, which make up 99 percent of their diet. They dramatically plunge into water, plucking fish by locking their talons into them. Located on every continent except Antarctica, one of their primary breeding grounds in Canada is Nova Scotia, where they nest along coastlines and lakes.