World Wetlands Day falls on 2 February each year and the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Collection is issued on this day to celebrate. The 2017 issue is the 24th in the series and features the California quail.
The California quail (Callipepla californica) was first introduced into New Zealand in Papakura in 1862. Since then they have spread rapidly and can now be found in large numbers from Northland to the Waikato, inland Bay of Plenty, the West coast and Southland. Their preferred habitats in these areas are open shrubland, the thick undergrowth of forests or along the scrubby edges of rivers and roads.
California quail can be easily recognised for the curling black plume that rises from the tops of their heads. They are relatively stocky birds and are mainly grey and brown in colour. The males have black faces that are rimmed with white and a blue-grey breast. They also have distinctive black scalloping that merges into white streaks on their dark brown flanks. The females’ markings are much more subdued, they tend to be a duller brown but their white streaks are equally as bold as the males.
When it comes into breeding season, male California quails can become quite aggressive in their courtships and will often fight each other. When courting, males will puff up or contour their feathers, spread their tail feathers and dip their heads. California quail nests are well concealed amongst dense vegetation and a flattened grassy area is the tell-tale sign of nest. The striped walnut sized chicks are extremely active and after hatching they will leave the nest as soon as they are dry. The chicks can also fly from a young age, giving them a useful escape tool from potential predators.
The 2017 Game Bird Habitat Collection consists of a stamp, a miniature sheet, a first day cover, a miniature sheet first day cover and a limited edition hand numbered and signed artist print. Each print includes 2 stamps, one of which is signed by the artist Jeanette Blackburn.
Jeanette Blackburn has been a professional artist for over 45 years and is renowned for her amazing wildlife and landscape works. She uses acrylic paint to capture the finest details, such as the fluffiness of a birds feathers, and then adds oil paint to give the fullness and 3D effect to her completed artworks. She aims to promote appreciation and conservation of New Zealand’s wildlife and natural resources. To view more of Jeanette Blackburn’s incredible works visit jeanetteblackburn.co.nz.
|Date of issue:||2 February 2017|
|Denomination and design:||$10.00, California quail|
|Stamp, miniature sheet and first day cover illustrations by:||Jeanette Blackburn|
|Printer and process:||Southern colour print|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||52mm x 37.5mm|
|Miniature sheet size and format:||110mm x 90m|
|Paper type:||Tullis russell red phosphor|
|Period of sale:||Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until close of business 1 February 2018. Prints are available for three years after issue.|