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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Duck Stamp Scavenger Hunt!

By Rachel F. Levin, USFWS

On June 28, the 80th Federal Duck Stamp will go on sale. For those who don’t know what a Duck Stamp is, the best way to sum it up is that it is a powerful conservation tool packed into a 1 ¼” by 1 ¾” stamp. When you buy a $15 Duck Stamp, 98 percent of your money goes directly toward wildlife habitat conservation.

The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp. Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. 

Sales of the Duck Stamp to hunters, collectors, conservationists and birders have raised more than $800 million to acquire more than 6 million acres of wildlife habitat on our national wildlife refuges. On the whole, the conservation achievement of the Federal Duck Stamp Program is impressive.

Today, standing with the chief of the Duck Stamp Office before a large framed case containing reproductions of every Duck Stamp, I was reminded again of how unique every stamp is. These are miniature works of art. These are not simply tiny pictures of ducks; each stamp has its own distinctive details that make it special.

But I don’t want to just tell you how unique each Duck Stamp is. I want to show you. Our gallery of Federal Duck Stamps shows all 79 stamps produced since 1934 – take a look. Then learn some trivia about some of the stamps.

The 1935-36 stamp was the first to feature a duck blind. Interestingly, these features were not in the original art for the stamp; they were added by the engraver at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which until about 10 years ago hand engraved the plate for each Duck Stamp.

The 1941-42 stamp shows an adorable brood of ruddy ducks with Mom and Dad. This stamp is not actually biologically accurate. As with most waterfowl species, the male ruddy duck does not stay with the brood once ducklings are hatched.

One of the most famous Duck Stamps is the 1959-60 stamp, known as “King Buck.” This stamp features a common site in waterfowl hunting – a retriever bearing a hunter’s prize. This was the first time a dog was featured on the Federal Duck Stamp. An interesting note: King Buck was a real dog.

A number of Federal Duck Stamps feature landmarks, especially lighthouses. The 1963-64 stamp is one of these. The 1996-97 stamp featured the Barnegat Light on the New Jersey Coast.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some Duck Stamp trivia and the opportunity to study some of these miniature works of art. Now go buy your own stamp and enjoy your very own unique miniature work of art.


The 2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp. Madison Grimm of Burbank, S.D. won.

Starting June 28, you can buy the new Duck Stamp online, at many sporting goods and retail stores, and at some post offices and national wildlife refuges.

Go to www.fws.gov/duckstamps/stamps.htm for all buying options.

Rachel F. Levin is communications coordinator in the Migratory Bird Program

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