This bird of prey has its stronghold in the Falkland Islands, but is considered to be one of the rarest in world terms. A member of the Falconidae family, the Striated caracara actually gets its name from the feathers that are shown on this stamp – the small, white feathers create beautiful stripes or striations from the nape downwards. As the bird matures, the underlying feathers progress from brown to black and the white feathers extend further down the chest and back of the bird’s nape. The plumage of these caracaras allows approximate ageing of an individual.
32p Black-browed Albatross – Thalassarche melanophris
Over 75% of the world’s population of this albatross species breed in the Falkland Islands, with a total of over half a million pairs across 12 breeding sites. These majestic birds come to the Falklands each September to lay their single egg. During the courtship ritual, which is very important in this family of birds due to their life-long, monogamous pair bond, the tail feathers are a major part of the display; the tail is fanned out and raised and the pair engage in a complex series of bill-clacking and head-waving, the male periodically placing his bill between the feathers on his back and making low, ‘growling’ sounds. The albatross keeps up a strict preening regime to maintain the waterproof quality of its feathers and will often alight on the sea for a bath.
78p Barn Owl - Tyto alba tuidara
The Barn owl is one of the species in the world which can be found, in various forms, on six of the seven continents. The feathers are significantly darker than of those birds found in Europe. Owl feathers differ significantly in structure to other birds due to the importance of silent flight for these nocturnal hunters. Owls use their extremely accurate and sensitive hearing to locate their prey, and for this reason they must be able to fly silently in order not to interfere with this special adaptation. Owl feathers are very soft with a special comb-like leading edge, which almost completely eliminates noise as they fly. This feather structure has a downside: owls are not particularly waterproof and Barn owls in particular tend not to be able to hunt in wet weather.
78p Yellow-billed Teal – Anas flavirostris
The Yellow-billed teal is the smallest species of duck we have in the Falkland Islands and can usually be found on small, freshwater ponds or in ditches where there is cover available for hiding their nests and ducklings. They have a striking feather pattern, and like all ducks, waterproofing of the feathers is very important. A lot of time and effort must be put into preening to maintain the feathers; a special preen gland near the base of the tail produces oil, which the birds spread over their feathers in order to keep them waterproof.
£1.26 Black-crowned Night Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax falklandicus
Breeding in small numbers in the Falkland Islands, the Night heron is another species which can be found around the world. This bird has striking blue-grey plumage when fully mature, with 1-3 long, white plume feathers at the crown which are raised during courtship and communication between birds. The juvenile birds’ feathers differ significantly, giving them a brownish, speckled plumage. The colour of the eye also changes; juvenile birds have a bright yellow eye, whereas fully mature adults have a bright red iris, shown partly in this stamp.
£1.26 King Penguin – Aptenodytes patagonicus
Penguins of course don’t need feathers suitable for flight, but rather for underwater and thermal efficiency. The structure of a penguin’s feathers are therefore quite different to those of a flying bird, and also because the penguin has no need to fly, it goes through what is known as a “catastrophic moult” at the end of each breeding season. At this time, the bird grows an entirely new set of feathers; the old ones are pushed out from below and are lost over a period of weeks, (during which time the bird fasts on land). The old feathers on a penguin at the end of the breeding season are noticeably duller and in poor condition – the new ones which will replace them will put the bird back into full condition and ready for a new season. The striking colours on the King penguin’s feathers are for attracting a mate – science has shown that subtle differences in the intensity of colour in a bird’s feathers can make it more or less attractive to a mate – a subtle difference that may not be visible to our own eyes. Waterproofness is of course also paramount in penguin plumage and like all sea and water birds, they have an oil gland at the base of their tail to use during preening.
Text by Georgina Strange.
Photography: Georgina Strange
FDC Illustration: Tatiana de Mendonça
Process: Stochastic lithography
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size: 42 x 28mm
Sheet layout: 10
Release date: 5 August, 2019
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
Stamp Item Numbers:
ST012096 Feathers Mint Set
ST012097 Feathers CTO Set
ST012098 Feathers FDC
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