Birds of the Alps new stamps from Italy

December 6th, 2013

Italian Post issued a set of five commemorative stamps featuring birds of the Alps in their natural environment: the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopusmuta), the Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picuscanus), the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), the Boreal Owl (Aegoliusfunereus) and the Western Capercaillie (Tetraourogallus).

The Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopusmuta) is a medium-sizedgamebirdin thegrousefamily.

The Rock Ptarmigan is 34–36 centimeters long (tail 8 cm) with a wing-span of 54–60 centimeters.The male's "song" is a loud croaking. The Rock Ptarmigan is season ally camouflaged; it sfeathersmoult from white in winter to brown in spring or summer. The breeding male has greyish upper parts with white wings and under parts. In winter, its plumage becomes completely white except for the black tail.

The Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picuscanus) is a Eurasianmember of thewoodpecker family Piciformes. It is 25–28 cm long and weighs 130-180 grams. It has green upperparts, pale grey underparts and a yellow rump. It has a grey head with black moustache, and the male has a red crown.

The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is abird of prey, and the only member of the genus Gypaetus. It eats mainlycarrionand lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, theIndian Subcontinent, and Tibet, laying one or twoeggsin mid-winter that hatch at the beginning of spring. Populations are resident.

The Boreal Owl (Aegoliusfunereus) is a smallowl. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known astypical owls. The Boreal Owl is 22–27 cm long with a 50–62 cm wingspan. It is brown above, with white flecking on the shoulders. Below it is whitish streaked rust color. The head is large, with yellow eyes and a white facial disc, and a "surprised" appearance. The beak is light yellow colored.The flight is strong and direct. Young birds are chocolate brown.

The Western Capercaillie (Tetraourogallus) is the largest member of thegrousefamily.

Found across Europe and Asia, it is renowned for its mating display. Male and female Western Capercaillie—the cocks and the hens—can easily be differentiated by their size and colouration. The male bird (orcock) is much bigger than the female (orhen).

Cocks typically range from 74 to 85 cm in length with wingspan of 90 to 125 cm and an average weight of 4.1 kg. The bodyfeathersare coloured dark grey to dark brown, while the breast feathers are dark metallic green. The belly and undertail coverts vary from black to white depending on race.