The Royal Canadian Mint has released new 2023-dated six-coin specimen sets, which are part of their “Conservation Stories” series featuring one of the country’s most endangered species, the greater sage-grouse. Each spring, the male of the species is known for putting on quite a show during the mating season. As part of this unique ritual, he fans out his plumage, puffs out his chest and struts enticingly to attract his female counterpart. During this display, he also inflates two yellow air sacs, which are prominent on his chest. When deflated, those sacs make a loud popping noise, similar to uncorking a champagne bottle, and which can remarkably be heard up to three kilometres (nearly two miles) away. This elaborate courtship display has been captured on the reverse side of the 2023 specimen dollar, highlighting the endangered status of a species that now occupies just 7% of its historical range in Canada. With fewer than 250 remaining in the wild, Canada’s greater sage-grouse population has been the focus of collaborative efforts to support the recovery of both the grassland species and its sagebrush habitat, which is critical to the survival of the greater sage-grouse. About 60% of an adult’s summer diet and 100% of its winter diet consists of sage leaves, stems, and buds found in these grasslands. Efforts to increase the population of the greater sage-grouse also include a captive breeding and reintroduction program led by the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo. As of early 2022, 187 conservation-born sage-grouses have been released onto protected lands in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, home to only five known communal mating grounds. Hope for the greater sage-grouse’s recovery grows, as ongoing research and population management strategies are working to slow the population’s decline and boost its chances of survival.
Designed by Canadian artist David Caesar, these eleven-sided specimen dollar coins are struck in three-ply brass plated steel and exclusive to the Specimen set. The reverse side features a depiction of a male greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) performing its elaborate courtship display in its sagebrush habitat. To the right along the edge is the text CANADA DOLLAR in bold lettering with the year of issue 2023 shown below. The remainder of the coins included are the $2, $50, $25, $10, and 5¢ coins which depict the current circulation reverse designs. Each obverse side depicts the memorial effigy of her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II created by Susanna Blunt. The obverse also includes a special marking of four pearls symbolizing the four effigies that have graced Canadian coins and the double date of her reign, 1952 and 2022, which are shown just under the Queen’s likeness.
The six coins are sealed in a rigid plastic case and presented in a book-style folder, and the case is also removable. Each set is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and is limited to 30,000 in total. The Royal Canadian Mint is the only national mint to issue an annual set of coins in a Specimen brilliant / frosted relief against a distinctive lined surfaced background finish. For additional information, please click here.