Misnamed Tropicbirds
St Vincent - incorrect name Palau - incorrect name

When I received the sheet from St Vincent with shorebirds, and the definitive set from Palau, I did not recognise that the tropicbird stamps were based on the same art-work. The right wing of the Palau bird has been moved and shortened to make it fit the stamp. In the Palau set, I soon realised that the 50c stamp showed a Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) rather than a Sanderling (Calidris alba) as inscribed on the stamp. A correspondent in Canada found the image for this one was from "All the Birds of North America" of Jack L Griggs, HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

I correctly identified the St Vincent tropicbird as Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus), but included the Palau stamp as White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus): an error which I will correct on my next update.

While checking my tropicbird stamps, I noticed that the stamp below, issued by Antigua & Barbuda in 1995, actually does show a White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) contrary to its inscription. Again, I will correct this soon. See update of 7 April

The illustration from "Birds of the West Indies" by Raffaele et al shows White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) on the left with Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) on the right.

Antigua & Barbuda - poor example of Red-billed
P. lepturus (left) & P. aethereus

Update 4 April 2002 (Dominica stamp added 30 August 2002)
Further checking of the stamps in my collection has revealed four more which apparently use the same image of a Red-billed Tropicbird with the same incorrect caption. These are two from St Kitts and one each from Tuvalu and Dominica. Perhaps this much-travelled bird appears on more stamps!

Update 7 April 2002
I'm grateful to Kenneth Worm for questioning my identification of the tropicbird on the Antigua & Barbuda stamp. As he points out "there is some faint barring on the bird on the stamp which the Raffaele bird hasn't got. Maybe this barring is just undeveloped in the stamp bird. Secondly, the eye streak looks longer than on the white-tailed, more like the red-billed. And finally, the wing patch near the body looks exactly like on the red-billed, whereas the white-tailed has a long streak almost reaching the front edge of the wing". On reflection, this bird is actually more like a poorly drawn Red-billed than White-tailed, so I will leave it as that.

Added 3 April, 2002