Australia post issued four stamps featuring magnificent birds of prey Australian Owls, pictured within their natural habitat.
The Adelaide-based wildlife artist Christopher Pope designed the stamps with naturalistic illustrations.
The issue depicts four Owls: Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa), Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa), Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris) and Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook lurida).
Among approximately 750 species of birds in Australia, nine owl species can be found on the mainland and in Tasmania.
This captivating nocturnal bird of prey falls into two genera: Tyto (masked and barn owls) and Ninox (hawk-owls and boobooks).
The former are distinguished by their classic heart-shaped facial disc; the latter by their hawk-like appearance.
They are stealthy nocturnal hunters, most active at dawn and dusk, and are for the most part solitary or pairing birds.
Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa)
The heavily built Sooty Owl is fairly large at 40–50 centimetres, the female being much larger than the male.
Its huge dark eyes stare out from a distinctive dark facial disc, the feathers dark around the eyes and lightening towards the outer edge.
Its massive legs are covered with pale feathers, and its powerful feet with their long talons are grey.
The Sooty Owl’s habitat is tall forest and densely vegetated gullies, including in coastal ranges.
Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa)
The Rufous Owl, of which there are three subspecies, is large at 45–55 centimetres.
It often hunts sizable prey, including the Brush Turkey, Orange-footed Scrubfowl and Sugar Glider, though it will also take beetles.
The two subspecies of north-eastern Australia have a darker face (mainly around the eyes) than that of the Kimberley.
Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris)
The Eastern Grass Owl has long legs, sparsely feathered on the lower section, and a slender body.
Its legs are in fact are up to 15 percent longer than those of other species.
It hunts by flying slowly and low above the ground, dropping onto its unsuspecting prey.
Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook lurida)
At 25–35 centimetres, the Southern Boobook is the smallest of Australia’s owls.
It is also one of the most abundant and widely spread (along with the Eastern Barn Owl), although it is not often seen.
The Southern Boobook eats small birds and mammals, and many more invertebrates than any other owl.
Title: Australian Owls
Date of Issue: 5 July 2016
Denominations: $1 x 4
Source: Australia Stamps