Stamps of Cambodia

Topical Stamp Collecting: Birds, Wildlife

Birds of Prey

This majestic set of six stamps featuring birds of prey from around the world was issued by Cambodia in 1999. Issued in denominations from 200 to 4000 riels the stamps series features such raptors as the Harpy Eagle, the Egyptian Vulture and the Peregrine Falcon.

Harpy Eagle - Harpia harpyja

Named for the ferocious winged harpies of Greek mythology, the harpy eagle is one of the world's largest and most powerful eagles. They weigh up to 18 pounds, have a wing span of about 7 feet, and feet as large as a human hand. Their heads are covered with a double crest of large, pale gray feathers, while their body feathers are black above and white underneath. The harpy eagle lives in the tropical lowland rainforests of Central and South America where it nests high in the canopy and hunts medium and large sized animals including monkeys, opossums, iguanas, and other birds. With the large tracts of forest needed for hunting becoming increasingly scarce, the harpy eagle is an endangered species.

Bateleur - Terathopius ecaudatus

The bateleur is a mid-sized eagle with long pointed wings. Their shape is distinctive with a very bushy head and tailless appearance. They are generally black but with chestnut from mantle to tail, brownish-grey shoulders, and white underwings. The bateleur has an extensive range across much of sub-Saharan Africa. It inhabits open country, including grasslands, savanna and subdesert thornbush, nesting in the canopies of large trees. They will both hunt and forage, eating mostly mammals and birds but also some reptiles, carrion, and insects. The bateleur is listed as a near threatened species. The major cause of their decline appears to be poisoning by farmers.

Egyptian Vulture - Neophron percnopterus

The Egyptian vulture is one of the smaller Old World vultures. They weigh about 4 pounds and are about 25 inches long. They have bright yellow skin on their faces and a mane of white feathers on their heads. Egyptian vultures are found in Africa, India, Europe and Asiayear round. They inhabit dry, wide-open lands, including deserts, grasslands, farm fields, and pastures; they are also found in urban areas. They prefer to nest on rocky ledges or in caves but will also nest in trees. Although they will occasionally eat live prey, Egyptian vultures are scavengers eating mostly carrion and, when near people, garbage. Egyptian vultures are not threatened.

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

The peregrine falcon might be the fastest animal on earth; in a dive they have been clocked at more than 180 miles per hour. They weigh about 2 pounds, are about 20 inches long, and have a wing span of about 3 and half feet. They have long, tapered wings, a slim, short tail. slate and blue-gray wings, black bars on their backs, pale underbellies, and white faces with a black stripe on each cheek. Peregrine falcons are widespread and are found worldwide except for rainforests and cold, dry Arctic regions. They inhabit open habitats, such as grasslands, tundra, and meadows, nesting on cliff faces and crevices. Peregrine falcons eat mostly birds but also small reptiles and mammals. At one point the peregrine falcon was nearly extinct in the United States. Pesticides in common use in the mid-twentieth century resulted in weak egg shells leaving the birds unable to reproduce. New regulations and a successful captive breeding program have led to a remarkable recovery and in the 1990s the birds were removed from the endangered species list.

Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensisa

The red-tail is one of the largest hawks. They weigh about 3 pounds, are about 22 inches long and have a wing span greater than 4 feet. Red-tailed hawks vary greatly in appearance. Their name derives from their russet red tail. They are dark brown on the back and the top of their wings. Their undersides are usually light with a dark belly band, and a cinnamon wash on the neck and chest. They are found throughout North America and south as far as the mountains of Panama. The red-tailed hawk is very adaptable, preferring grasslands or marsh- shrub habitats, but also found in deserts and forests. Its diet consists mostly of small rodents, but also includes rabbits and reptiles.

Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The national bird and symbol of the United States of America, the bald eagle is a large raptor weighing as much as 15 pounds and having a wing span anywhere from 6 to 7 and a half feet. It is blackish brown in color, with a distinctive white head and hooked yellow beak. The bald eagle's natural range covers most of North America, inhabiting lakes, rivers, marshes, and seacoasts, and nesting in tall trees or high in the cliffs. Although they feed mainly on fish, the bald eagle's diet is opportunistic and varied. They will eat small to medium sized mammals, reptiles, and birds, and will also scavenge carrion. Like the peregrine falcon above, the bald eagle suffered severe declines in the 20th century primarily due to pesticide contamination. The birds have made a significant recovery and in 2007 were finally removed from the endangered species list.

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