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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Old wooden decoys on Franking labels


2012 sees the start of a new theme for Åland franking labels. Reputable stamp artist Juha Pykäläinen was commissioned to illustrate old wooden duck decoys; first out is the eider duck.
Wildfowl decoys are lifelike dummies used by hunters to encourage birds to land nearby. The oldest decoys were made from plants such as bulrush, and the first decoys carved from wood were unpainted. Decoys are now mostly made from plastic. The new series of postal labels shows painted wooden decoys.
One of the largest sea ducks is the eider with a body length of 60 to 70 cm. It has a large bulky shape with a short neck, a large head and a long wedge-shaped bill without knob. The bill is feathered on the sides from the base of the bill to the nostrils. The eider can be readily distinguished by its characteristic triangular head shape with the bill and forehead forming a straight line. The wings are broad, short and relatively small with a wingspan of 95 to 105 cm. The male eider is also called eider drake.