Occasional news related to my natural science illustrations
Recently, the Royal Canadian Mint released three new coins featuring designs I created, one of which is a circulation Lucky Loonie. A collector edition silver Loonie bears a similar loon design, and a collector edition toonie shows two wolf cubs. I’ll post photos as soon as I have managed to acquire the coins, but for now visit the links in the previous sentences to view images at the Mint’s website.
(August 7 update: see my photo of and more news about the circulating lucky loonie here).
(August 15 update: Below is a photo of the silver Lucky Loonie).
(August 20 update: Below is a photo of the special edition toonie).
While these are not my first coin designs for the Mint (see here, here, here, here, and here), the Lucky Loonie is my first circulating coin design, and I’m delighted to know it’ll end up in the pockets of Canadians everywhere. So, Canadians, be on the lookout for some shiny loonies in your change, or just go ahead and order them for face value at the Mint’s website – there’s no shipping charge or taxes at this time.
The loon I drew is spreading its wings in a territorial display. Contrary to what many believe, it is not a courtship display. While doing research for this coin design, I came across a 1972 paper by Sjölander and Ågren, (citation below) which states:
Since the territorial behavior of loons is so spectacular and the behavior most likely to be seen by the observer, it is easily understandable that it has been interpreted as courtship by many authors…. Our observations indicate, however, that there is very little courtship in G. immer, if by courtship is meant a special behavior preceding and leading to copulation.
In other words, the images one sees of loons with their breasts jutting out of the water and their wings outstretched are not mating dances, but displays induced by the invasion of one’s territory by another loon that isn’t a mate. The authors go on to illustrate several territorial displays as well as some comparatively calm courtship behaviour.
“Reproductive Behavior of the Common Loon,” Sverre Sjölander and Greta Ågren, The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 3 (Sep., 1972), pp. 296-308 (see page 300)