Stranger Birds

One of the most popular topics amongst thematic stamp collectors

Thematic stamp collecting took off in a big way in the 1980s.

One of the top areas selected by collectors to focus on should come as no surprise…


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016, over 45 million Americans consider themselves birders.

In the UK we call them ‘twitchers’. It is estimated around 3 million people in the UK go birdwatching every year.

The first and most valuable stamp issue to feature a bird was Switzerland’s first stamp, the 1845 “Basel Dove”…

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Today, birds are still one of the world’s most collected thematic topics. 

It is a topic containing thousands of beautiful stamps. Many of the designs are from talented wildlife artists, showcasing birds of the world in all their splendour.

It is also an area giving collectors a huge diversity to collect, with around 41,000 bird stamps to choose from featuring 4,100 different species.

It is such a popular area of collecting, there is even a website dedicated to collecting birds on stamps:

The website lists over 30,000 bird stamps, enabling collectors to identify the stamps they collect.

I have handpicked for you a small selection of the most beautiful and exotic birds that have featured on stamps from across the globe.

So, join me today on a worldwide tour. Let’s go bird spotting…


Australia hosts 828 different species of native birds, with nearly half being endemic.

The most famous bird stamp is the Swan issue from Western Australia.

The very existence of this magnificent pair is strange…

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Western Australia 1902-11 1d carmine-rose, watermark V over crown sideways (type 33), horizontal pair, perforations compound of 12½x12 (comb) and 11 line (at foot), SG135.

A fine used example with large part strikes of GERALDTON circular date stamps, dated 'SP 26 05'. 

An exceptional rarity as a multiple, with not even single examples being recorded in private hands by Brusden White Specialist Australia catalogue in 2004.

Needless to say, the current Stanley Gibbons catalogue value of £1,000 for a single used example appears ridiculously under-valued.

The iconic Swan issue of Western Australia was used as it was the emblem of the Colony and a reminder of when it was known as the Swan River Settlement.

Accompanied with a British Philatelic Association certificate of authenticity (2007).

Price: £1,500 (25% discount)


It is strange to find an example of this attractive stamp featuring the Superb Lyrebird in such fine mint condition…

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Australia New South Wales 1905-10 2s6d blue-green, 'Superb Lyrebird' watermark 68, perforations 11½ x 11 (line), SG349a.

A fine and fresh mint example with large part original gum. 

The Superb Lyrebird is found only in the forest of the Southeast of Australia. It is one of the world’s largest songbirds, renowned for its elaborate tail, courtship displays and its excellent mimicry.

Stanley Gibbons catalogue value: £80.

Price: £75 (6% discount)


New Zealand

New Zealand is home to some of the strangest birds in the world.

The most famous and strangest is the flightless Kiwi, the nation’s sweetheart. It is so iconic it has become the colloquial word for New Zealanders.

It is a very hard bird to spot. Not only is it nocturnal, but it tends to reside in dense forested regions.

The famous Kiwi stamp I have is particularly strange because of a small point of detail. It is a key watermark rarity…

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New Zealand 1902-07 6d rose-red "Kiwi", watermark 43 UPRIGHT, perforations 11, attractively cancelled by Telegraph Office Nelson circular date stamp dated "25 MR 03", SG312ab.

An exceptional used and dated example of this key rarity in rose-red colour shade and with the watermark upright. A few slightly shortish perforations, but is the best quality example we have ever handled. 

The Kiwi is the most ancient of New Zealand’s birds and unable to fly. They are unique to New Zealand and have become a national symbol.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £2,000.

Price: £1,500 (25% discount)


Extinct birds have also been known to feature on stamps.

This block of four is rare because of its stunning quality…

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New Zealand 1907-08 3d brown 'Huia', reduced format, perforations 14x13, 13½ (comb), block of 4, SG378.

A brilliant mint block with original gum, (lower pair unmounted mint). Some slightly short perforations at right, which do not detract from what is a lovely block. 

By 1906 the ½d, 3d, 6d & 1s pictorial stamp printing plates needed to be replaced. The opportunity was taken to reduce in size the 3d, 6d and 1s stamps so that they would be the same size as the 1d value.

Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) became extinct in 1907 as a result of hunting, clearing of their forest habitat and over-zealous specimen collecting for overseas museums.

The bird was noted for its green black plumage, its rounded orange wattles and white-tipped tail. The female had a long, slender curving bill which made it easily distinguishable from the male, which had a much shorter but more powerful beak.

Almost always seen in pairs, they normally bounded along the ground or from branch to branch, flying only when necessary.

Huia tail feathers were greatly prized by the Māori as symbols of rank and used as adornment by chiefs.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £220+.

Price: £175 (20% discount)


It is very strange to find the Kea and Kaka bird stamps in fine mint condition.

It is even stranger to see them in their various shades as blocks of four, making a wonderful philatelic showpiece…

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New Zealand 1902-07 1s "Kea and Kaka", watermark 43 sideways, perforations 11, four blocks of 4 in various shades, brown-red, red, orange-red and orange-brown, SG315/c.

A fine set of mint blocks of four with large part original gum. Typical perforations for this issue, and red block with small tone spot mentioned purely for accuracy as a fine and attractive group. 

The Kea and Kaka are both endangered and are the world’s only alpine parrots. Kea are considered one of the most intelligent birds. They have been known to turn on water taps and set off stoat traps to get the eggs. The smaller Kaka are olive-brown in colour. They are nocturnal and very rarely seen.

New Zealand Campbell Paterson Catalogue Numbers: E18d - 1, 2, 5 & 6.

Stanley Gibbons catalogue value: £1,280+

PRICE: £995 (22% discount)


Falkland Islands

The remote Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic are a bird watchers paradise with 220 recorded bird species. Most of them are remarkably numerous and tame.

The most famous bird stamp issued in 1933 is not only famous in the Falkland Islands, it is also one of the most iconic stamps of the whole British Commonwealth.

It is a masterpiece in design and this example is particularly strange as it is from the rarer second printing in a different colour shade…

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Falkland Islands 1933 Centenary 5s black and yellow-orange 'King Penguin', SG136a.

The scarce and distinctive shade from the small second printing of 1,320 stamps (which were mostly destroyed in 1934). 

A fine mint example with lovely colour and with original gum and only a trace of a mark from a previous stamp hinge. Minor gum wrinkle mentioned for accuracy, which does not detract in any way as it is a very fine example.

The stamp features the Gentoo Penguin, the most famous bird of the Falkland Islands. Gentoo Penguins nest in colonies adjacent to sandy or shingle beaches at over 80 locations around the Falkland Islands. Its adorability has led it to become an emblem of the Islands.

Accompanied with a clear Sismondo certificate of authenticity (2009).

Stanley Gibbons catalogue value: £3,250.

PRICE: £2,950 (9% discount)



The volcanic island of Mauritius, located in the south-west Indian Ocean, became part of the British Empire in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1847 it became the first British colony in the world after the UK to issue postage stamps.

Mauritius is probably most famed for being the home of the dodo.

This stamp features the famous dodo, but there’s something strange about its beak…

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Mauritius 1965 Birds 1r light yellow-olive 'Dodo', error with PALE ORANGE OMITTED, SG328a.

A very fine and fresh unmounted mint example with full original gum. Accompanied with the normal stamp for comparison. 

The dodo is probably the most well-known example of human-induced extinction. Over-harvesting and loss of habitat resulted in the last dodo being killed in 1681 and lost forever.

A scarce error of missing colour affecting the beak

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £325.

PRICE: £300 (8% discount)



Lesotho, in Southern Africa, is renowned for its breathtaking scenery all above 1,000 metres. The Sehlabathebe National Park in the Maloti Mountains is at the heart of the country.

The country is home to some 200 species of birds. One of the most attractive is the gem-like wetland kingfisher. It is known to sit motionless for long periods before diving in the water to catch a fish.

The example below shows a printing variety, particularly strange as almost never seen as a pair…

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Lesotho 1986-88 Provisional 35s on 25s 'Malachite kingfisher', '1981' imprint date, type 167 surcharge, horizontal pair, both stamps variety 'small s' in 35s, SG720b/bc.

A very fine unmounted mint pair with full original gum. 

A scarce printing variety, particularly as a pair.

Stanley Gibbons catalogue value: £200.

Price: £180 (10% discount)


Great Britain

Birds did not make an appearance on British stamps until 1963.

It was the 1966 issue, however, devoted exclusively to British birds which proved the most popular.

Make way for the centrepiece…

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Great Britain Queen Elizabeth II 1966 4d Birds (Ordinary paper), SG696ab.

A superb unmounted mint original gum left hand marginal block of four with black, blue, bistre and reddish brown omitted, offered with normal block for comparison. 

The error results in the loss of value and inscription on all stamps. Also affected are the gull's head, wing detail and water shading; the blue tit's feather detail and branch shading; the robin's wings and legs; and the blackbird's body and legs.

The error existed in a cylinder block of eight but was split into two blocks of four in the late 90s. As a result, only two blocks of four exist showcasing this major error.

A wonderful example of undoubtedly the most spectacular Queen Elizabeth II error.

The 1966 British Birds commemoratives were designed by John Norris Wood, featuring the Blackbird, European Robin, Blue Tit and Black-headed gull. Each stamp portrays an attractive coloured sketch alongside a silhouette of the Queen.

This major rarity was previously priced in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue at £20,000 but was reduced in last year’s edition to £12,500. In our view, the reduced price does not do justice to this philatelic great.

Price: £12,500


Secure your strange bird stamp today

Most bird stamps were sourced from a painting or drawing and are miniature works of art.

Birds are a fascinating area of study with such diversity and often strangeness.

The stamps featured today are even stranger in light of their rarity making them close to extinction.

So, make sure to pick them up today to ensure their future preservation and survival.

If you would like me to reserve any of the stranger bird stamps featured today, please e-mail me at

Alternatively, call me on +44(0)1534 639998.

Thanks for reading.


Mike Hall, CEO

PS. The Bird Stamps Society was founded in 1986, with membership open worldwide for a subscription of as little as £5 per year. There is a whole world of birds out there waiting for you to collect.P.S. Are you following us on social media? Find us here:

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