ZAGREB, July 26, 2022 – On July 27, 2022, Croatian Post will put into circulation new commemorative postage stamps with the motif of protected bird species that live, among others, in Croatia.
The stamps show goldfinches, Eurasian eagle-owls, flat-billed sandpipers and kingfishers.
The circulation of stamps is 30,000 copies per motif in common sheets of 16 stamps. The author of the stamps is Sabina Rešić, a designer from Zagreb.
With the stamps, Croatian Post participates for the first time in the world philatelic exhibition Birdpex, which is dedicated to bird-themed exhibits. This year the event will be held in Austria.
The text below on the occasion of the release of new commemorative stamps is written by Davor Ćiković, scientific associate of the Institute of Ornithology, HAZU.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
In late autumn, when the lawns lose their green freshness and turn an unsightly brown, we can see flocks of goldfinches on them, visiting the seed-rich heads of gorse and goldfinches, and with their cheerful red and yellow colours of their robes and joyful chirping, they enliven the landscape that is preparing to fall into winter sleep.
Feeding on seeds from the cap-like flowers of goldfinch and strička (Carduus is the scientific name for plants from the stričak genus) is equally responsible for the Croatian, as well as for the scientific name of these birds.
The goldfinch is a widespread and frequent bird species. They nest in trees near open forests and forest edges, orchards, parks and other open habitats with trees – most often near human settlements.
They are partial migrants: the part of the population that migrates mostly winters in the Mediterranean, and part of the population are tenants. In Croatia, goldfinches can be observed and heard in our vicinity all year round, and in winter they are often seen visiting bird feeders.
They are known for their extremely beautiful chirping, and they are vocalised all year round, mostly in the spring. People love them because of their beautiful chirping and colourful plumage, so goldfinches are often kept in cages as decorative birds.
In the past, people often caught goldfinches in the wild to sell them, and killed many of them in the process. Fortunately, wild birds are not allowed to be caught today, and only farmed birds are allowed in cages. In addition to the dark side of the relationship between people and goldfinches, there is also a slightly more beautiful one – goldfinches are a frequent motif in art.
They are thus often found in Renaissance paintings, for example, Raphael’s Madonna with Goldfinch, but they are also a motif in music, as in Vivaldi’s Goldfinch, a concerto for flute and orchestra.
Flat-billed sandpiper (Calidris falcinellus)
The flat-billed sandpiper belongs to a relatively large group of small to medium-sized birds called murres, also known as woodpeckers, and they are characterised by long legs and beaks adapted to a lifestyle along muddy shoals and sandy shores.
They feed on invertebrates hidden in mud or sand. Due to the relatively low representation of such habitats in Croatia, these birds are not particularly numerous in our country, while on the northern coasts of the European continent they are common and live in large flocks. They are known as superb fliers who fly great distances on their migratory journeys.
This little cosmopolitan spends about one month in the spring and about two months in the fall to travel between the breeding grounds and the wintering grounds, which is more than 6,000 km. They will use the remaining three months of the year for nesting and quickly raising three to four cubs during the short arctic summer.
Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)
Of the 13 species of owls that live in Europe, as many as 10 of them nest in Croatia, and the Eurasian eagle-owl is the largest among them. It is one of the largest owls in the world and among the least picky when it comes to choosing its habitat, nesting site and diet.
The Croatian name – Sova ušara- of this species comes from the feathered ears, which do not have an auditory function, considering that the ears, that is, the ear canals, are located much lower – behind the eyes. Their ears are used to communicate with other owls. In addition to the Eurasian eagle-owl, the little Eurasian eagle-owl is also relatively common in Croatia – a much smaller species of owl that lives near human settlements and gathers in flocks in winter.
Eurasian eagle-owls are resident birds, so they live in the same area all year round. During the 20th century, in a number of European countries, the number of shrews decreased due to human persecution, but the status of their population gradually improved due to the implementation of protection measures in most countries.
Today, the biggest threat to earwigs is electrocution on power lines. In the first half of the 20th century, they died out in the lowland part of Croatia, so today are widespread in mountainous Croatia and the coast, where it most often nests on cliffs. The population of Eurasian eagle-owls in Croatia is estimated at 800 to 1200 pairs.
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
According to Ovid’s myth, the kingfisher was created after the envious Zeus drowned Keiko in the sea. Seeing this, Keiko’s wife Alkion threw herself into the sea out of grief. The other gods took pity on the fate of Keiko and Alkione, so they turned them into birds – kingfishers.
This turquoise-orange bird the size of a sparrow, with a long and strong beak and a short tail, is one of the most beautiful European birds.
It lives along the shores of rivers, lakes and seas, where it feeds in the shallows on fish it stalks from the edge of the vegetation, and catches them by plunging and diving.
Although fish predominate in the kingfisher’s diet, they also feed on insects that live in or near the water. In one study, it was determined that a kingfisher must eat about half of its body weight per day, and for this it needs more than 30 successful dives.
Kingfishers are widely distributed and are not an endangered species. It is estimated that there are around 100 thousand couples living in Europe.
In Croatia, they are widely distributed along all types of water surfaces and are nesting sites, but in the migration seasons and in winter, birds from the north of the continent also appear here. Croatia’s breeding population is estimated at 700 to 1000 pairs.