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27 December 2014

Parrots of Burundi (I)

L : Red-fronted Parrot (黑翅賈丁氏鸚鵡) ; R : Cape Parrot (海角鸚鵡)
Burundi (2011)

20th October, 2014. Bujumbura

Red-fronted Parrot also known as the Jardine's parrot, is a medium-sized mainly green parrot endemic across wide areas of Africa. It has three subspecies. The extent and shade of the red or orange plumage on its head, thighs, and bend of wings vary depending on the subspecies. They are popular as pets, partly because of their ability to mimic speech and copy sounds. Trapping of wild birds for the pet trade is a potential threat to wild populations; however, they are protected by CITES (appendix II) making the trade, import and export of all wild-caught parrots illegal.

Cape Parrot is a short-tailed moderately large bird with a very large beak used to crack all sorts of hard nuts and fruit kernels, especially those of African yellowwood trees Podocarpus spp.. This contrasts with the closely related Savanna species (Poicephalus fuscicollis) which feeds on and a wide variety of tropical woodland trees such as Marula, Commiphora spp. and Terminalia spp.. These species are sexually dimorphic, with females typically sporting an orange frontal patch on the forehead. Juveniles also show a larger orange - pink patch on the forehead but lack the red on shoulders and legs of adults. These plumage characteristics vary among individuals and among the three recognized forms.

20 December 2014

The Indian issue of 'International Year of Biodiversity'


Left : Indian Eagle-owl (印度雕鴞) ; 
Right : Ruddy Shelduck (赤麻鴨) and Brahminy Kite (栗鳶)
Postmark : Pale-capped Pigeon (紫林鴿)
India (2012)

24th August, 2014. Bhubaneswar
18th October, 2014. Hong-Kong

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.The International Year of Biodiversity is a unique opportunity to increase understanding of the vital role that biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth.

13 December 2014

Endangered Seabirds

Antipodean Albatross (安島信天翁)
New Zealand (2014)

25th September, 2014. Whanganui

New Zealand’s unique marine environment is home to a diverse range of seabirds, giving New Zealand the title of ‘seabird capital of the world’. Five of our most endangered seabirds are featured on this unique stamp issue that uses thermochromic ink to reflect the disappearing nature of these precious birds.

Antipodean Albatross is a large albatross that breeds almost exclusively on the Auckland and Antipodes Islands. They are masters of low-energy flying and forage over the contintental shelf edge and deep water areas.

Restricted to the Chatham Islands as their name suggests, this large black and white shag, is a conspicuous bird along the rocky coastlines. Colonies and roost sites are located on rocky headlands and islets and there is one colony in the Te Whanga Lagoon.

Black-billed Gulls are strongly colonial and breed predominantly on braided rivers from the coast to the headwaters. The species is found throughout New Zealand but is most common east of the southern divide in the South Island and in Southland.

Chatham Island Shag (查島鸕鶿)
New Zealand (2014)

25th September, 2014. Whanganui

Black-billed Gull (黑嘴鷗)
New Zealand (2014)
25th September, 2014. Whanganui

6 December 2014

Black-faced Spoonbill

Black-faced Spoonbill (黑面琵鷺)
Taiwan (2004)
20th September, 2014. Chigo

The black-faced Spoonbill has the most restricted distribution of all spoonbills, and it is the only one regarded as endangered. Spoonbills are large water birds with dorso-ventrally flattened, spatulate bills. These birds use a tactile method of feeding, wading in the water and sweeping their beaks from side-to-side to detect prey. Confined to the coastal areas of eastern Asia, it seems that it was once common throughout its area of distribution. It has a niche existence on only a few small rocky islands off the west coast of North Korea, with four wintering sites at Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as other places where they have been observed in migration. Wintering also occurs in Cheju, South Korea, Kyushu and Okinawa, Japan, and Red River, Delta Vietnam. More recently, sightings of Black-faced Spoonbill birds were noted in Thailand, the Philippines, mainland China, and Macao They were classified as an endangered species through IUCN in 2005. Declines in their population are predicted in the future, mainly due to the amount of deforestation, pollution, and other man-made industries.

29 November 2014

Eurasian Nutcracker

Nutcracker (星鴉)
Switzerland (2014)

4th September, 2014. Goldau

Eurasian Nutcracker is a passerine bird slightly larger than the Eurasian jay. It has a much larger bill and a slimmer looking head without any crest. The feathering over its body is predominantly a chocolate brown with distinct white spots and streaks. The wings and upper tail are virtually black with a greenish-blue gloss. It is one of three species of nutcracker. The Large-spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga multipunctata), was formerly considered a subspecies. The other, Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana), occurs in western North America.

It is a dark brown, broad-winged, short-tailed corvid. Body plumage is mid to dark chocolate brown, heavily spotted with white on face, neck, mantle and underparts. It has a large white loral spot, a white eye-ring, blackish brown cap extending onto the nape, dark blackish wings with a greenish-blue gloss, all white vent, and dark tail with white corners above and a white terminal band on the undertail. In flight, broad wings, white vent and short tail are noticeable; the flight undulating. The black bill is slender and rather long, sharply pointed, and varies in size amongst races. The iris, legs and feet are black.

Nutcracker (星鴉)
Switzerland (2014)

4th September, 2014. Bern

Nutcracker (星鴉)
Switzerland (2014)

4th September, 2014. Goldau

22 November 2014

Biodiversity SOAR of Ireland (2014)

Mute Swan (疣鼻天鵝)
Ireland (2014)

31st July, 2014. Dublin

As last few years, Ireland An Post continues to issue Biodiversity definitive SOAR this year and it is the fifth series of 2014, eight labels issued cover variety family as well as before. The two birds chose as Mute Swan and Winter Wren.

Mute Swan is a species of swan, and thus a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae. It is native to much of Europe and Asia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. It is also an introduced species in North America, Australasia and southern Africa. The name 'mute' derives from it being less vocal than other swan species. Measuring 125 to 170 cm in length, this large swan is wholly white in plumage with an orange bill bordered with black. It is recognisable by its pronounced knob atop the bill.

Winter Wren is a very small North American bird and a member of the mainly New World wren family Troglodytidae. It was once lumped with Troglodytes pacificus of western North America and Troglodytes troglodytes of Eurasia under the name winter wren. It breeds in coniferous forests from British Columbia to the Atlantic Ocean. It migrates through and winters across southeastern Canada, the eastern half the United States and rarely north-eastern Mexico. Small numbers may be casual in the western United States and Canada.

Mute Swan (疣鼻天鵝)
Ireland (2014)
31st July, 2014. Dublin

Winter Wren (鷦鷯)
  Ireland (2014)
31st July, 2014. Dublin

15 November 2014

Black-legged Kittiwake

Black-legged Kittiwake (三趾鷗)
Ireland (2014)

21st July, 2014. Dublin

An Post increased the standard domestic letter rate again from 60c to 68c on 2014. As the new rate effective on July 21, An Post released couple of new coils and booklet stamps, those stamps still as well as Biodiversity definitive series. However An Post did not have special postmark to match those stamps, here is the maxicard of the stamps.

The Black-legged Kittiwake is a small, cliff-nesting gull, named for its loud, nasal ‘kitti-wake’ call. Its short legs are usually black, helping to distinguish it from the Red-legged Kittiwake. The hind toe of each foot is reduced to a mere bump, meaning it has only three functional toes instead of four, giving the Black-legged Kittiwake its scientific name, tridactyla, which means ‘three-toed’.

8 November 2014

Bank Swallow

Bank Swallow (灰沙燕)
USA (2013)
Mountain Bluebird (山藍鳥) ; Evening Grosbeak (黃昏錫嘴雀)
USA (2014)
5th April, 2014. Audubon

Bank Swallow is the smallest swallow in North America and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. About five inches long, the slender bird digs nesting burrows in riverbanks, gravel pits and even highway cuts. Both males and females help dig the tunnel, first pecking out a shallow hole with their beaks, then using their feet to kick out the dirt.

Like all swallows, Bank Swallows are agile songbirds that specialize in catching insects in midair. A typical Bank Swallow colony can have anywhere from ten to nearly 2,000 nests. A sandbank riddled with holes, especially one near a river or lake, is likely to be the home of a colony of Bank Swallows.

1 November 2014

Waterbirds of Indonesia

From left to right :
Blue-faced Rail (藍臉秧雞) ; Milky Stork (灰䴉鸛)
Javan Plover (爪哇鴴) ; White-shouldered Ibis (白肩黑䴉)

Indonesia (2014)
30th August, 2014. Jakarta

Indonesia is rich in waterbirds; it is home to about 380 species of these wetland dependent bird species. Waterbirds are extremely important both from a conservation and recreational point of view. Most of these species have adapted to the drastically changing conditions of wetlands through their migratory behaviour. Wetlands International works in Indonesia to protect waterbird populatons by taking a leading role in conservation work, and by building and sharing knowledge.

Many waterbirds complete annual migrations of several thousands of kilometres between their breeding and non-breeding areas, passing many country borders and even between continents. These migration routes are called flyways. Waterbird conservation and sustainable management requires coordinated actions throughout the length of a flyway. Indonesia belongs to the East Asian – Australasian Flyway.

25 October 2014

Bermuda bluebird

Eastern Bluebird (東方藍鴝)
Bermuda (2014)
13th August, 2014. Hamilton

The first and most drastic decline of the bluebird population occurred in the late 19th century when the House sparrow was introduced. The aggressive and adaptable sparrow multiplied rapidly and soon became the most abundant bird in Bermuda. The sparrow, as a hole-nester, rapidly displaced the bluebirds from the eaves of houses and soon began taking over the cliff holes and hollow of the cedar trees as well.

By the 1930's the natural bluebird nestlings were confined almost exclusively to holes in the trunks of cedar trees. The cedar scale endemic in the late 1940's and early 1950's killed over 90% of Bermuda's cedar forest. In an attempt to remove the eyesore and reforest the island the Government and private landowners felled most of the dead cedars destroying many ideal-nesting hollows.

Eastern Bluebird (東方藍鴝)
Bermuda (2014)
13th August, 2014. Hamilton

18 October 2014

BALTEX 2014

Pictorial postmark : White Stork (白鸛)
Germany (2014)
29th August, 2014. Bonn

BALTEX 2014 is a national stampexhibition that have be held in Malmö, Sweden's third largest city in the center of the vibrant Öresund region. The exhibition was opened 29-31 August 2014.

In 1954 the last breeding attempt by the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) in Sweden failed and the species was declared extinct from the Swedish fauna. Reasons for the extinction are thought to be a combination of issues such as habitat conversion, increased mortality and an overall decline of the European White Stork populations. Since 1989 an ongoing reintroduction programme for the White Stork has been established in Scania, southern Sweden. The aim of the reintroduction programme is to reestablish a naturally breeding population of White Storks. The approach is based on captive breeding and release of established pairs that settle and breed in the vicinity to the release sites. The White Stork is also used as a flagship species for the restoration of the Swedish wetlands that have been severely affected by drainage to the point that 90% has disappeared from the area.

11 October 2014

Blue Lorikeet

Blue Lorikeet (塔布吸蜜鸚鵡)
Aitutaki (2002)
16th July, 2014. Aitutaki

Blue lorikeet is a small lorikeet from French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. It is also known as the Tahiti lorikeet, violet lorikeet, Tahitian lory, blue lory, nunbird, and the indigo lory. It was formerly found on 23 islands around Tahiti, but now restricted to perhaps eight islands: Motu, Manuae, Tikehau, Rangiroa, Aratua, Kaukura, Apataki, Aitutaki, and possibly Harvey Island and Manihi. Its plumage is mainly dark blue and it has a white area over its upper chest, throat and face. The first captive breeding in the UK was by the Marquess of Tavistock in the 1930s. He was awarded a silver medal by the Foreign Bird League for this achievement.

4 October 2014

Environmental care

Lesser Adjutant (禿鸛) ; Giant Mud Crab (鋸緣青蟹)
Indonesia (2014)
30th August, 2014. Jakarta

Llesser adjutant is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. Like other members of its genus, it has a bare neck and head. It is however more closely associated with wetland habitats where it is solitary and is less likely to scavenge than the related greater adjutant. It is a widespread species found from India through Southeast Asia to Java.

Giant Mud Crab is an economically important species of crab found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia. In their most common form, the shell colour varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown. The natural range of Giant Mud Crab is in the Indo-Pacific. It is found from South Africa, around the coast of the Indian Ocean to the Malay Archipelago, as well as from southern Japan to south-eastern Australia, and as far east as Fiji and Samoa. The species has also been introduced to Hawaii and Florida.

27 September 2014

Huangmei Opera

The far right one : Oriental Magpie-Robin (鵲鴝)
China (2014)
6th July, 2014. Tianhau East, Guangzhou

Huangmei or Huangmei tone originated as a form of rural folksong and dance that has been in existence for the last 200 years and possibly longer. The music is performed with a pitch that hits high and stays high for the duration of the song. It is unique in the sense that it does not sound like the typical rhythmic Chinese opera. In the 1960s Hong Kong counted the style as much as an opera as it was a music genre. Today it is more of a traditional performance art with efforts of revival in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Huangmei Government at Hubei province was officially considered as the place of origin of Huangmei opera.

20 September 2014

75 years of Adlerwarte Berlebeck

Pictorial postmark : Red Kite (紅鳶)
Germany (2014)
22th June, 2014. Detmold

The Adlerwarte Berlebeck is a bird park in the district of Detmold Berlebeck. It was founded in 1939 by husband and wife Kati and Adolf Deppe and is now an institution of the city of Detmold. Not only because of their location near the Hermann Monument in the Teutoburg Forest is a popular destination and in recent years, more than 100,000 visitors each after Berlebeck.

Nicely landscaped and located on the flight of birds on a low ridge, the Adlerwarte Berlebeck is a home to 46 different raptor species with a total of about 200 raptors. During the season several times a day instead of free-flight demonstrations. For this purpose a revolving stage was set up with 160 seats. In a teaching and information center Find out more about birds of prey, the history of falconry and the tasks of the Eagle is mediated in wildlife conservation.

13 September 2014

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

From left to right :
75c : Green Iguana (美洲鬣蜥) ; 95c : Hercules Beetle (長戟大兜蟲)
$2,50 : White-breasted Thrasher (白胸嘲鶇) ; 30c : Saint Lucia Lobelia (聖露西亞半邊蓮)
St Lucia (2010)
12th June, 2014. Castries

Saint Lucia has been in the forefront of the movement to save the biodiversity of the world as it is a small island developing state with many endemic species. Notable successes include the conservation of the Saint Lucia parrot which is found in Saint Lucia and nowhere else in the world and has been brought back from the brink of extinction in the late 1970s to now having over 1500 birds flying free in the wild at the last count done in 2009 by a newly designed scientific survey. The public awareness campaign using Jacquot, the affectionate name of the bird, as a flagship species for biodiversity conservation from 1979-1989, the Jacquot Consolidation Campaign of 1990-1991, the designation of the bird as the National Bird in 1979, the same year that Saint Lucia attained independence, the designation of the Saint Lucia rain forest as a parrot sanctuary all contributed to the successful efforts to conserve this parrot. Saint Lucia is very grateful for the help that it has obtained for these successes from its various partners including the Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust and the RARE Centre for Tropical Conservation. The efforts of the Forestry Department must be commended in this regard.

The country can also boast of the rehabilitation of the latanye and mauby plant species important for the livelihoods of many rural people. Through the diligent efforts of the Forestry Department, the plants are now being cultivated by farmers. As a result, the broom and beverage producers can continue their livelihoods. The Aupicon Charcoal Producers is another case in point of individuals benefitting from using biological resources for their livelihoods. For many years, working with the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute and the Fisheries and Forestry Departments, charcoal producers of Vieux Fort would cut the stems of mangrove plants in the Mankote Mangrove without denuding the mangrove forests and the trees would always regenerate.

The Saint Lucia Whiptail lizard which was found only on The Maria Islands has now been successfully translocated to Praslin Island, Dennery Island and Rat Island by the Forestry Department, providing a safety net for this lizard where the male has the colours of the Saint Lucia flag. There are over one thousand individuals of these species living in the wild.

6 September 2014

Eurasian Woodcock

Eurasian Woodcock (丘鷸)
Austria (2014)
16th May, 2014. Hirtenberg

Eurasian woodcock is a medium-small wading bird found in temperate and subarctic Eurasia. It has cryptic camouflage to suit its woodland habitat, with reddish-brown upperparts and buff-coloured underparts. Its eyes are set far back on its head to give it 360-degree vision and it probes in the ground for food with its long, sensitive bill, making it vulnerable to cold weather when the ground remains frozen.

The male performs a courtship flight known as 'roding' at dusk in spring. When threatened, the female can carry chicks between her legs, in her claws or on her back while flying, though this is rarely witnessed. The world population is estimated to be 14 million to 16 million birds.

30 August 2014

60th Anniversary of Founding of Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

China (2014)
3rd May, 2014. Shennan Road C., Shenzhen

The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) is a national people’s organization engaged in people-to-people diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China. The aims of the Association are to enhance people’s friendship, further international cooperation, safeguard world peace and promote common development. On behalf of the Chinese people, it makes friends and deepens friendship in the international community and various countries around the world, lays and expands the social basis of friendly relations between China and other countries, and works for the cause of human progress and solidarity. It implements China’s independent foreign policy of peace, observing the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, while carrying out all-directional, multi-level and broad-area people-to-people friendship work to serve the great cause of China’s peaceful development and reunification and contribute to the building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. In launching its activities, it has support from the government and assistance from all sectors of the society. It has set up 46 China-regional or China-national friendship organizations and established relationship of friendly cooperation with nearly 500 nongovernment organizations and institutions in 157 countries.

23 August 2014

European Green Woodpecker

Pictorial postmark : European Green Woodpecker (綠啄木鳥)
Postmark : Germany (2014)
4th May, 2014. Rohr

European Green Woodpecker is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae. There are four subspecies and it occurs in most parts of Europe and in western Asia. All have green upperparts, paler yellowish underparts, a red crown and moustachial stripe which has a red centre in males but is all black in females. It spends much of its time feeding on ants on the ground and does not often 'drum' on trees like other woodpecker species. It is a shy bird but usually draws attention with its loud calls. A nest hole is excavated in a tree; four to six eggs are laid which hatch after 19–20 days.

16 August 2014

British dinosaurs

Ornithocheirus (鳥掌翼龍) ; Dimorphodon (雙型齒翼龍)
Great Britain (2013)
13th May, 2014. Cardiff

Over the past 200 years the fossilised remains of the skeletons of the dinosaurs featured in this issue have been found in the UK, mostly in southern Britain – hence they are ‘British’ dinosaurs. The lightweight Ornithocheirus flew mostly by soaring and gliding on its long, narrow wings. It fed by skimming the sea surface and catching fish with its long, slender jaws fringed with sharp, outwardly pointing, interlocking teeth. The two different sizes of teeth in the jaws of Dimorphodon suggest that it was piscivorous (a fish-eater). It had a large, puffin-shaped skull, with big side openings supported by thin, bony struts to save weight.

9 August 2014

Songbirds of the Greek Countryside

From left to right :
Nightingale (夜鶯) ; Greenfinch (金翅雀)
Eurasian Siskin (黃雀)
Greece (2014)
20th March, 2014. Athens

Compared to other European countries, Greece has a particularly rich birdlife. The most populous group are the Passeriformes with a total of 179 species. The best known of those are the bird species known as songbirds. The 5 species of songbirds this commemorative series of stamps captures are the cinnamon-coloured Nightingale with its warbling song, the small-bodied Linnet with its whistle-like song, the well-known and impressive European Goldfinch with its characteristic chirps, the yellow and black Siskin with its warbling melody and the European Greenfinch with its elaborate and long-drawn out song.

Goldfinch (紅額金翅雀)
Greece (2014)
20th March, 2014. Athens

2 August 2014

Rare Birds of Henderson

$4,40 : Henderson Lorikeet (施氏吸蜜鸚鵡)
$2,10 : Henderson Reed Warbler (亨島葦鶯)
Pitcairn Islands (2011)
20th July, 2011. Pitcairn Islands

Henderson Island is part of the Pitcairn Group and was designated a World Heritage site in 1993. Renown for having the largest pristine raised coral atoll in the world and an ecology that has remained intact from human activity, Henderson Island is in trouble. With four endemic bird species, eight snails and nine plants found nowhere else in the world, Henderson is also home to marine turtles and twelve different seabird species, including four types of petrel.

It is the plight of the petrel that has captured the attention of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and they have initiated the Henderson Island Restoration Project which involves the planned eradication of introduced rats that are driving the Henderson petrel towards extinction. Over 95% of petrel chicks on Henderson are killed by rats within one week of hatching - over 25,000 chicks every year. These rats are also competing with the other land birds and therefore may be limiting their populations.

26 July 2014

Jack Snipe & Hoopoe

0,50 € : Jack Snipe (小鷸) ; Eurasian Hoopoe (戴勝)
Latvia (2014)
30th May, 2014. Riga

The Bird of the Year is one of the annual symbols of Latvian nature, which has been designated by the Latvian Ornithological Society since 1996 in order to draw more public attention to a particular bird species, obtain more information for research thereof or ensure special measures for its protection. Eurasian Hoopoe, which has been given the title of the bird 2014, is a colorful bird in the family Upupidae in the order Coraciiformes, which can rarely be found in Latvia and which has the largest concentration in vicinity of Riga: from Jūrmala to Zvejniekciems. Its European populations have decreased substantially since the late 19th century, and the bird can no longer be encountered in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and large parts of Germany.

The Jack Snipe is one of the 30 bird species in the genus Lymnocryptes found in Latvia. The birds from this genus are encountered almost all over the world, except Antarctica. In Latvia, it can be seen during migration in the spring and autumn. It is not usually observed in the summer period, and it overwinters in small groups in the western and central part of the country. The jack snipe can be very secretive and difficult to observe.

19 July 2014

Birds of Slovenia, a new definitive stamp series

From left to right :
A : Crag Martin (岩燕) ; B : Common Merganser (川秋沙)
C : Lesser Kestrel (黃爪隼) ; D : Ural Owl (長尾林鴞) ; 0,36 € : Eurasian Bittern (大麻鳽)
Slovenia (2014)
31st May, 2014. Službeno, Maribor

Slovenia starts their new definitive series after the Wild Flowers, which issued on 2007. The first five are A to D, and 0,36 Euros for basic rates, and perhaps more to be come. Crag Martin is 14–15 cm long and thus a fairly large representative of the swallow family. It is a rare nesting bird in Slovenia, limited to the western and northeastern part of the country. It belongs to the summer species, but it is the only swallow that can also be seen in winter in certain warmer or southern parts of Slovenia. Common Merganser, being 57–69 cm long, the common merganser is the largest of the three merganser species in the duck family that can be found in Slovenia. Lesser Kestrel is 29–32 cm long and so slightly smaller than the common kestrel, commonly found in Slovenia. Unfortunately, it has become extinct as a nesting bird in the country and can only be seen when flying through. Ural Owl is one of the largest representatives of the family of typical owls in Slovenia, and stays here throughout the year. Eurasian Bittern stay in Slovenia the whole year round. They build their nests on the ground, using reeds and twigs. They lay three to four eggs, and raise one to two broods a year.

12 July 2014

Falcons

From left to right :
Saker Falcon (獵鷹) ; Lanner Falcon (地中海隼)
Gyrfalcon (矛隼) ; Peregrine Falcon (擬游隼)
Iraq (2013)
4th May, 2014. Mosul

A falcon is any one of 37 species of raptor in the genus Falco, widely distributed on all continents of the world.

Adult falcons have thin tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and to change direction rapidly. Fledgling falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers, which makes their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broadwing. This makes it easier to fly while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults.

Peregrine Falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth. Other falcons include the Gyrfalcon, Lanner Falcon, and the Merlin. Some small falcons with long narrow wings are called hobbies, and some which hover while hunting are called kestrels. The falcons are part of the family Falconidae, which also includes the caracaras, Laughing Falcon, forest falcons, and falconets.

5 July 2014

Blue Tit

Blue Tit (藍山雀)
Andorra (2014)
22nd May, 2014. La Vella

Blue Titis a small passerine bird easily recognisable by its blue and yellow plumage, but various authorities dispute their scientific classification. It usually resident and non-migratory birds, are widespread and a common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and western Asia in deciduous or mixed woodlands with a high proportion of oak. They usually nest in tree holes, although they easily adapt to nest boxes where necessary. Their main rival for nests and in the search for food is the larger great tit.

The Blue Tit prefers insects and spiders for its diet. Outside the breeding season, they also eat seeds and other vegetable-based foods. The birds are famed for their skill, as they can cling to the outermost branches and hang upside down when looking for food.

Blue Tit (藍山雀)
Andorra (2014)
2nd May, 2014. La Vella

28 June 2014

Giants of the sky

Wandering Albatross (漂泊信天翁)
Pitcairn Islands (2014)
27th February, 2014. Pitcairn Islands

Wandering Albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.5m and are capable of remaining in the air without flapping their wings for several hours. Spending most of their life in flight, their range is all the southern oceans from 28° to 60°. The length of the body averages 120 cm (with females being slightly smaller) and they weigh between 6.5 and 12kg. Plumage varies with age, with the juveniles starting chocolate brown changing to white bodies with black and white wings as adults. The large bill is pink, as are the feet. They also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe.

They can live for over 50 years and pairs of Wandering Albatrosses mate for life and breed every two years. Breeding takes place on sub-Antarctic islands and one egg is laid usually on an exposed ridge near the sea. During the early stages of the chick's development the parents take turns to sit on the nest while the other searches for food. They are night feeders and feed on cephalopods, small fish and crustaceans and on animal refuse that floats on the sea.

21 June 2014

Birds of prey in China, II

From left to right :
Eastern Imperial Eagle (白肩鵰) ; Eurasian Kestrel (紅隼)
Northern Harrier (白尾鷂) ; Northern Goshawk (蒼鷹)
China (2014)
23rd February, 2014. Nantou, Shenzhen

Though raptors, also known as birds of prey, occupy the top of the food chain, the wild carnivorous birds are now all under the key protection of the state in China. This stamp set shows four diurnal raptors in Falconiformes. Eastern Imperial Eagle is about 75cm long and inhabits mountain forests and places on the edges of forests. It usually stays on trees and preys when opportunities emerge. Northern Harrier is about 50cm long, and lives on open plains, grasslands and farmlands. The greatest natural enemy of other birds and hares in forests, Northern Goshawk is about 56cm long and can fly rapidly and flexibly in forests to get preys. Eurasian Kestrel is only 33cm long. These small raptors can often be seen in open areas. They are famous for their graceful hovering in the air.

14 June 2014

Songbirds of USA

From left to right :
1sr roll : Mountain Bluebird (山藍鳥) ; Western Tanager (黃腹麗唐納雀)
Painted Bunting (麗色彩鵐)
Baltimore Oriole (橙腹擬黃鸝) ; Western Meadowlark (西草地鷚)
2nd roll : Scarlet Tanager (猩紅麗唐納雀) ; Rose-breasted Grosbeak (玫胸白斑翅雀)
American Goldfinch (美洲金翅雀)
White-throated Sparrow (白喉帶鵐) ; Evening Grosbeak (黃昏錫嘴雀)
USA (2014)
15th April, 2014. Redmond

Between 4,000 and 4,500 different types of songbirds can be found around the planet, accounting for nearly half of all bird species. Songbirds are identified by their highly developed vocal organs. Some songbirds, like the crow, have harsh voices, others sing rarely or not at all. All songbirds are classified as perching birds. With three toes pointing forward and one pointing backwards, they can grip branches and grasses with ease.

Why do songbirds make such a glorious sound every morning? In a word, love. Males sing to attract females and to warn rivals to keep out of their territory.

From left to right :
1sr roll : Baltimore Oriole (橙腹擬黃鸝) ; Painted Bunting (麗色彩鵐) 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (玫胸白斑翅雀)
2nd roll : Western Tanager (黃腹麗唐納雀) ; Scarlet Tanager (猩紅麗唐納雀)

 Western Meadowlark (西草地鷚)
3rd roll : White-throated Sparrow (白喉帶鵐)

American Goldfinch (美洲金翅雀)
USA (2014)
5th April, 2014. Dallas, Taxes
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