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Australia : Australia Post takes flight with owls on stamps.

Australia Post's latest stamp issue Guardians of the Night takes flight, showing off four fascinating owl species: the Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa), Rufous Owl, (Ninox rufa), Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris) and lurida subspecies of the Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook).

Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt, said: "Of Australia's nine owl species, this stamp issue features four beautifully illustrated species. Birds are a popular choice for our collectors, and we hope these 'guardians of the night' will delight stamp collectors and bird-lovers alike."

With acute vision and hearing, as well as specialised primary feathers that make their flight virtually silent, owls are excellent hunters that use the element of surprise to snap up prey.

Despite 1971 legislation that protects all owl species, owl populations are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and destruction, which affects not only their food sources but also their nesting and roosting sites.

The four domestic base-rate ($1) stamps have been illustrated by Adelaide-based wildlife artist Christopher Pope and feature the following species:

The Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa), of which there are three subspecies, is large and often hunts sizable prey. It is a beautiful rich, deep chestnut to rufous colour. The two subspecies of north-eastern Australia have a darker face than that of the Kimberley, Western Australia. It inhabits dense, tall eucalypt rainforest, river-edge forest and mangrove areas.

The Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris) differs from other Australian owls in that it is the only ground-dweller, occupying dense groundcover of tall grasses. This striking long-legged owl has fairly widely spaced eyes framed with a white through to rufous buff facial disc. It is found across northern Australia into much of Queensland, as well as north-eastern New South Wales and north-eastern South Australia.

The Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa) is heavily built and fairly large, with huge dark eyes that stare out from a distinctive dark facial disc. This very secretive bird is distributed along Australia's eastern coast, from central Queensland into the south of Victoria. Its habitat is tall forest and densely vegetated gullies, including in coastal ranges.

Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook) is the smallest of Australia's owls. Although it is not often seen, it is widely distributed across Australia adaptable to rainforest, woodland and grassland environments. The subspecies lurida, which is pictured in the stamp design, is confined to around the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, where it inhabits dense rainforest.

The products associated with this stamp issue are a minisheet, first day cover, stamp pack, booklet of 10 x $1 self-adhesive stamps, prestige booklet, medallion cover and a set of four maxicards.

The Owls: Guardians of the Night stamp issue is available from 5 July 2016 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps while stocks last.

Visit the Australia Post Collectables website australiapostcollectables.com.au for a forthcoming article on owls. The Australia Post Collectables website is a central resource for stamp collectors and philatelic enthusiasts across the globe.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 30, 2016
Words:506
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