Birds of the Islands

Release Date:  08 January 2021




Date of Issue: 8 January 2021
Miniature sheet size: 110 x 160 mm
Illustration by Isabelle Molinard
Featured by Valérie Besser from image caption
Tuit-tuit: Jaime Martinez
Oriole de Martinique: Vincent Lemoine 
Grive with yellow legs: Régis Gomes / L’ASFA
Penguin Torda: (c) Philippe Clément /Belpress / Andia
Print process: Heliography 4 stamps per sheet                                                  Perforations: 13
Press Run: 350,000
Face Value: €4.32

First Day of Issue Locations: Fort-de-France (97209) Post Office of Fort de France Freedom, heart of city, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Rue de la Liberté, 97200 FORT-DE-FRANCE. La-Plaine-des-Cafres
(97418) The City of the Volcano, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., RN3, RN3 Bourg Murat, 97418 THE CAFRES PLAINE.
Petit-Bourg (97170) Petit Bourg Post Office from 8am to 1pm, Victor Schoelcher Street and Petit Bourg Floral Park, 8am-1pm, Domaine de Vallombreuse, 97170 PETIT BOURG. Paris
(75) Le Carré d’Encre, 10am-5pm, 13 bis rue des Mathurins, 75009 PARIS on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 January at:

Isabelle MOLINARD will host a signing session from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, January 8. *
All these events will take place subject to health changes.

Miniature Sheet of 4 Stamps


Design #1: Réunion cuckooshrike (Lalage newtoni



Design #2: Martinique oriole (Icterus bonana)




Design #3: Yellow-Legged Thrush (Turdus flavipes)





Design #4: Lesser Auk (Alca torda)





Design #4: Lesser Auk (Alca torda) – Full Sheet of 15 Stamps





Presentation Pack






First Day Cancellation: Paris






First Day Cancellation: Petit Bourg Floral Park, Paris (#1)






First Day Cancellation: Petit Bourg Floral Park, Paris (#2)






First Day Cancellation: Fort-de-France (#1)






First Day Cancellation: Fort-de-France (#2)






First Day Cancellation: La-Plaine-des-Cafres (#1)






First Day Cancellation: La-Plaine-des-Cafres (#2)







Press release
November 2020
On January 11, 2021, La Poste issues a block of stamps, a souvenir and a stamp “BIRDS OF THE ISLANDS” in the series Fauna and Flora.

A little ornithology …

Their songs are melodious, their plumage sublime, and yet these little birds are gradually disappearing from our landscapes …

The Martinique oriole is strictly endemic to the island. Mangroves are preferred, but they also nests in humid highland forests or urban areas. Due to the arrival of the glowing cowbird, which practices brood parasitism, it has been classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2013.

In Reunion Island, in an area of ​​12 km² of the Roche-Ecrite forest, there are around 40 pairs of a small passerine with gray-white plumage, the tuit-tuit. He is the victim of the introduction of the rat to the island. Critically endangered, it benefits from a conservation plan. The Reunion Island Ornithological Studies Society is carrying out rat control campaigns which, in 10 years, have reduced from 7 to 35 pairs.

In the West Indies there are about 30 islands, but only four of them are home to Yellow-legged Thrush. While the passerine is protected in the other three territories, its hunting is still authorized in Guadeloupe, which precipitates its decline. Added to this is the reduction in its forest habitat. IUCN is sounding the alarm to help protect this endemic bird.

The metropolis is not spared by the risk of species extinction, so the torda penguin is classified as critically endangered. It is a relict species, which means it lives in a small area, and its population tends to decline elsewhere as well. In 60 years, France has seen its population grow from hundreds of pairs to around 25, making it the most threatened in France.

IUCN is leading public awareness campaigns to prevent the extinction of our most endangered species. Its actions are aimed at better identification of species and the adoption of more responsible behaviors.

© La Poste – Elise Herbeaux – All rights reserved

New In 2021

In 2021 La Poste will generalize this new format of presentation by sheet on a sheet format of 143 mm x 185 mm with illustrated margins. Depending on the size of the stamp for each issue, the number of stamps will be between 9 and 15, but the total sheet format will be constant.

This new format should allow greater accessibility of products in post offices and meet the expectations of philatelists, cutting will be facilitated by indentations extending to the edge of the sheets.

It is all the know-how of printing, from the oldest to the most modern printing techniques that we rediscover through these new sheets that will delight collectors.

Reunion Cuckoo-shrike from Album de La Réunion, 1878

The Réunion cuckooshrike (Lalage newtoni) is a passerine bird in the cuckooshrike family. It is endemic to the island of Réunion, where it is restricted to two areas of mountain forest in the north of the island. Males are dark grey above and pale grey beneath, while females have dark brown upper parts and a streaked breast. The population has been declining and the range contracting, being currently about 16 square kilometres (6.2 square miles), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated the species as “critically endangered”, with the possibility that the bird could be wiped out by a tropical storm. Conservation efforts are being made by attempting to control the cats and rats which prey on the chicks, and this seems to have resulted in the population stabilizing.

The Réunion cuckooshrike is a small arboreal bird. The plumage is dimorphic between the sexes. The male is grey coloured with a darker back and lighter underside; the face is darker and has the impression of a mask. The female is quite different, being dark brown above and striped underneath with a white eye-line. The call of the species is a clear whistled tui tui tui, from which is derived its local Réunion Creole/French name, tuit-tuit.

The species is restricted to the forest canopy, with a distribution limited to two small patches of Réunion’s native subtropical mountain forests in the north of the island. Although it once ranged across Réunion in suitable habitat, its stronghold is the Plaine des Chicots – Plaine d’Affouches Important Bird Area near the island capital of Saint-Denis. Its diet is principally insects, though fruit are also taken.

Martinique oriole print from Iconographia Zoologica, Special Collections, University of Amsterdam

The Martinique oriole (Icterus bonana) is a species of bird in the family Icteridae. It is endemic to Martinique, French West Indies. Martinique is a part of the Lesser Antilles, and is located in the Eastern Caribbean. The orioles’ habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and plantations.

Compared to the other orioles of the Lesser Antilles, this oriole spots the most unusual plumage coloration. The Martinique Oriole has mainly black plumage with a reddish-orange belly,and grows to 18–21 cm. The males of this species are slightly brighter than the females. It makes harsh scolding calls, and whistles. Whether females sing or not is currently being researched. It eats fruit from the canopy, berries and various insects, foraging alone, in pairs or with a group of family members. Breeding is generally observed between February–July, however breeding has been recorded in December. It is closely related to several other orioles found in the Caribbean.

Martinique orioles are found in Martinique, French West Indies. They appear in a density of 2.4 birds/ha in central Martinique. Originally present in many habitat-types below 700 m, the Martinique Oriole is now mainly found in mangroves and dry forests. The Martinique Oriole generally likes to distance itself from heavily urbanized communities. It places its nest on the underside of wide leaves such as that of a banana plant, palm or Heliconia. Once the nests have been formed, they typically lay two, or sometimes three eggs. Its preferred habitat is in moist highland habitats; however, it could also be found in lowland dry forest habitats. Birds of this species do not form flocks, yet still communicate with each other via whistling, uttering harsh, scolding calls and singing a soft, warbling song. It is a territorial bird, however the territory they control is relatively small, as they have not been seen to feed more than 100 meters from their nest.[4] Much more research is needed on this species.

An adult male Yellow-legged Thrush in Parque Estadual da Serra da Cantareira, São Paulo, Brazil.


The yellow-legged thrush (Turdus flavipes) is a songbird of northern and eastern South America. In recent times, it is increasingly often placed in the genus Turdus again, however some taxonomists place this species in the genus Platycichla based on morphology. The South American Classification Committee of the American Ornithologists’ Union places it in the genus Turdus, as does the International Ornithological Committee.

This thrush is 22–23 cm (8.7–9.1 in) long and weighs 55–70 g (1.9–2.5 oz). Both sexes have yellow legs and eye-ring. The male has a yellow bill and its plumage is usually black with a slate-grey back and lower underparts. However, the hue of the grey areas varies, and the male of one of the five subspecies, P. f. xanthoscelus of Tobago, is all-black, resembling the male Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula). Females have a dull bill, warm brown upperparts and paler underparts. The juvenile male is brownish with black wings and tail, while the juvenile female resemble the adult female, but is duller, flecked with orange above and spotted and barred with dark brown below.

The song of the male is musical phrases, sreep, sreee, sree, sreee, again somewhat resembling that of the Eurasian blackbird, but sometimes including some imitation of other birds songs. The typical call is a sharp srip and a peculiar seeet given in alarm.

It has a highly disjunct distribution. One population breeds in northern Colombia, Venezuela, far northern Brazil, Trinidad, and Tobago, as well as parts of the Pakaraima Mountains in western Guyana (including as it seems Mount Roraima). A second population occurs in eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, and far northeastern Argentina. The Argentine subpopulation is partially migratory, being resident in the northern part, while southernmost breeders spend the Austral winter further north. Some populations in northern South America also take part in local movements, but these are not well understood.

The habitat of this small thrush is rainforest, secondary woodland, and overgrown plantations. It is mainly a species of highlands up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) ASL, but locally it occurs down to near sea level. The yellow-legged thrush mainly feeds in trees and bushes, infrequently on the ground, and mostly eats fruits and berries, e.g., Melastomataceae. It rarely if ever attends mixed-species feeding flocks, as its habit of keeping to the tree-tops makes it rarely worthwhile to join such conspicuous groups.

The nest is a lined shallow cup of twigs on a bank or amongst rocks. Two or three reddish-blotched green or blue eggs are laid.

It is fairly common in most of its range, and therefore listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, the yellow-legged thrush is a shy species, and the female in particular is difficult to see, since she does not sing and has a cryptic coloration.

Razorbill at bird cliff in Westfjords, Iceland.


The razorbill or lesser auk (Alca torda) is a colonial seabird in the monotypic genus Alca of the family Alcidae, the auks. It is the closest living relative of the extinct great auk (Pinguinis impennis).[4] Wild populations live in the subarctic waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Razorbills are primarily black with a white underside. The male and female are identical in plumage; however, males are generally larger than females. This agile bird, which is capable of both flight and diving, has a predominantly aquatic lifestyle and only comes to land in order to breed. It is monogamous, choosing one partner for life. Females lay one egg per year. Razorbills nest along coastal cliffs in enclosed or slightly exposed crevices. The parents spend equal amounts of time incubating, and once the chick has hatched, they take turns foraging for their young.

In 1918, the razorbill was protected in the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Presently, the major threat to the population is the destruction of breeding sites.

The razorbill is the sole species in the genus Alca. Its close relative, the great auk, became extinct in the mid-19th century. Razorbills and great auks are part of the tribe Alcini, which also includes the common murre or common guillemot (Uria aalge), the thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia), and the dovekie (Alle alle). The genus name Alca is from Norwegian Alke, and torda is from törd a Gotland Swedish dialect word. Both terms refer to this species.

There are two subspecies of razorbill recognized by the American Ornithologists’ Union. Alca torda torda, named by Linnaeus in 1758, occurs in the Baltic and White Seas, Norway, Bear Island, Iceland, Greenland, and eastern North America. Alca torda islandica, named by C.L. Brehm in 1831, occurs throughout Ireland, Great Britain, and northwestern France. The two subspecies differ slightly in bill measurements. A third subspecies, Alca torda pica, is no longer recognized because the distinguishing characteristic, an additional furrow in the upper mandible, is now known to be age-related.

The razorbill has a white belly and a black head, neck, back, and feet during the breeding season. A thin white line also extends from the eyes to the end of the bill. Its head is darker than that of a common murre. During the non-breeding season, the throat and face behind the eye become white, and the white line on the face and bill becomes less prominent. The bill is black, deep and laterally compressed, with a blunt end. It has several vertical grooves or furrows near the curved tip, one of them adorned with a white, broken vertical line. The bill is thinner and the grooves are less marked during the non-breeding season. It is a large and thick-set bird, for an alcid, and its mean weight ranges from 505 to 890 g (17.8 to 31.4 oz). The female and male adults are very much alike, having only small differences such as wing length. It is 37–39 cm in body length, the wing length of adult males ranges from 201–216 mm (7.9–8.5 in) while that of females ranges from 201 to 213 mm (7.9 to 8.4 in).[10] During incubation, this species has a horizontal stance and the tail feathers are slightly longer in the center in comparison to other alcids. This makes the razorbill have a distinctly long tail which is not common for an auk. In-flight, the feet do not protrude beyond the tail.

Their mating system is female-enforced monogamy; the razorbill pairs for life. It nests in open or hidden crevices among cliffs and boulders. It is a colonial breeder and only comes to land to breed. The annual survival rate of the razorbill is between 89 and 95%. Though the razorbill’s average lifespan is roughly 13 years, a bird ringed in the UK in 1967 survived for at least 41 years — a record for the species.

Razorbills are distributed across the North Atlantic; the world population of razorbills is estimated to be at less than 1,000,000 breeding pairs, making them among the rarest auks in the world. Approximately half of the breeding pairs occur in Iceland. Razorbills thrive at water surface temperatures below 15 °C. They are often seen with other larger auks, such as the thick-billed murre and common murre. However, unlike other auks, they commonly move into larger estuaries with lower salinity levels to feed. These birds are distributed across sub-arctic and boreal waters of the Atlantic. Their breeding habitat is islands, rocky shores, and cliffs on northern Atlantic coasts, in eastern North America as far south as Maine, and in western Europe from northwestern Russia to northern France. North American birds migrate offshore and south, ranging from the Labrador Sea south to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to New England. Eurasian birds also winter at sea, with some moving south as far as the western Mediterranean. Approximately 60 to 70% of the entire razorbill population breeds in Iceland.




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