The elusive parrot crossbill pictured on Åland stamp
The 2023 bird motif will be released on 15 March and challenged artist Bo Lundwall’s bird detective skills, but he managed to capture the elusive parrot crossbill. The bird is endemic to Åland and Scandinavia, and this may be the first time that parrot crossbills appear on a stamp.
Artist Bo Lundwall had to resort to different tricks to successfully paint the parrot crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus):
“It was an extra challenge to obtain reference material for this bird species. When I was bird watching, I sometimes saw the common crossbill but more rarely the parrot crossbill. One trick was to check the species observation system of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, where I could follow whether the bird was visible in my immediate area every day. In the end, I got hold of sketching material. I also met conservator and sculptor Lennart Pettersson, who lent me a mounted specimen of a female so that I could study details more closely. It’s my first time painting parrot crossbills, so it was extra fun to paint this particular bird for a stamp.”
Both parrot and common crossbill breed in Åland, and they can be difficult to tell apart in the forest. Crossbills are characterized by the crossed tip of the beak, which is adapted to snap up the pineal scales. The parrot crossbill’s beak is both wider and longer than that of other crossbills. The bird mainly eats pine seeds.
The crossbill has a large head, long wings, and a forked tail. The female is greyish green or greyish brown while the male plumage varies from brick red to magnificent red. Up close you see similarities with parrots, the precise meaning of the Greek word psittakos in the species name.
Facts about the issue
Name of issue Parrot crossbill
Date of issue 15 March 2023
Artist Bo Lundwall
Design Johanna Finne
Edition 45 000
Price FDC 3,40 €
Price maximum card 3,70 €
Stamp size 30 × 40 mm
Sheet size 2 × 12 stamps
Paper 110 g/m2
Perforation 13 per 2 cm
Process 4-colour offset
Printer Cartor Security Printers
Order stamp, first day cover and maximum card in the webshop at alandstamps.com.