I was contacted a few months ago through my blog by Correos del Ecuador, which is the Ecuadorian national postal company, as they were looking for photographs of rare birds of Ecuador that had never been represented in a postage stamp before. Flattered, I replied that I was happy to share any images I had taken during my birding trips around the country, hoping to have a few for which they were looking. I was dismayed to receive the list of desired birds, though, as they were mostly skulkers or pelagics, including the Striated Antthrush and White-Vented Storm Petrel. Still, I had a few decent photographs of the Gray-Breasted Mountain-Toucan and Common Potoo, two other species on the list, so I decided to go ahead with the philatelic project and allow the artists to create stamps from my photographs.
After reviewing my photographs of the desired species, the artists decided they would cull images directly from my blog instead, leaving me immensely curious about what birds and photographs they would ultimately use. Today, I finally received the results of the project, which was to be exhibited this year in Antwerp at Birdpex 6, an international "bird-only" stamp exhibition held every four years. While I admit to being surprised by the actual birds chosen for the stamps to represent Ecuador's "megadiversity," I'm pretty smitten with the slick product, which presents the four colorful stamps in a cleverly designed package in the shape of a tree (the images of the White-Winged Swallow, Toucan Barbet, and Crimson-Rumped Toucanet are mine, while the image of the Blue-Crowned Motmot is of Juan Carlos Valarezo).
There's also an informational flier that uses one of my images of a Turquoise Jay, which is a common enough bird on both slopes in Ecuador, but doesn't range much further outside the country. Perhaps my favorite part of the production, though, is the commemorative stamps, which depict two highly contrasting tanagers, the Scrub and Silver-Beaked Tanagers. The former is a subtle and sometimes hard to find tanager of the inter-Andean valley, while the latter is a striking but common tanager of open areas in the eastern lowlands.
It's worth mentioning that there are some outstanding resources on the Internet of the birds of Ecuador. Roger Ahlman of Andean Birding regularly updates his gallery of Birds of Ecuador, and Nick Athanas of Tropical Birding has outstanding digiscoped images of neotropical birds that are extremely difficult to find, much less photograph. Glenn Bartley recently published a gorgeous book of the birds of Ecuador, and Sam Woods also of Tropical Birding maintains one of my favorite birding blogs with awesome photographs of his guiding excursions in Ecuador. The best non-Internet publication of Ecuadorian birds has to be Murray Cooper's recent book Plumas, which meaningfully presents the country's avian diversity by organizing the bird photographs into distinct ecological zones. Frankly, these other sources would have proven more fruitful for the postage stamp project, but I'm proud to contribute nevertheless.