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Oregon Artist Wins Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest
This painting by Buck Spencer of Oregon was selected as the winner in the California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It will be the official design for this year’s California Upland Game Bird Stamp. Photo Courtesy Of CDFW

A painting of mourning doves has been chosen by a panel of judges as the winning entry in the 2020-2021 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest. The painting was created by Buck Spencer of Junction City, Ore.

Sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the annual contest determined the official design for this year’s California Upland Game Bird Stamp.

Contest entries were judged recently by a panel of experts selected for their knowledge in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. Designs were judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy, and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and print.

The judges praised the color, detail and accuracy of the painting, specifically noting the highlights and shading on the doves as if illuminated by the late afternoon sun. They also appreciated the choice of background, which reminded them of agricultural areas in California where doves are commonly seen, and the uniqueness of the layout. They commended Spencer’s “creative way to add background birds with morphological characteristics of dove in flight.”

The addition of background birds was something Spencer had not initially planned on.

“At first, I was going to paint two or three doves lined up together,” he said, “but I decided one bird would fit better. I still wanted more doves in the painting, so I decided to paint a few flying in the background.”

While preparing for his painting, he found it more challenging than expected to view doves in his desired setting. Observing them in the ideal, golden hour lighting was “surprisingly difficult for such a common bird.”

Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana, placed second. Allen Copeland of Leesburg, Georgia, placed third. Xochitl Acosta Brent of Redwood City, California, received honorable mention.

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The validation replaces the stamp through CDFW’s Automated License Data System, but the stamp is still produced and available to hunters upon request. Funds generated from upland game bird validation sales are dedicated solely to upland game bird-related conservation projects, hunting opportunities, and outreach and education. CDFW annually sells about 165,000 upland game bird validations and distributes approximately 24,000 stamps.

Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request their free collectable stamp by visiting An order form is also available on the website for collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation, or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps.