One of the most popular sets of coins produced each year by the Royal Canadian Mint is the Specimen Set. This collection features some of the highest quality possible coins struck for collectors, all housed in an elegant book format presentation. All of the denominations from the five cent to the $2 coin are presented, including the low-mintage half-dollar. The highlight of the set is a unique $1 coin featuring the Burrowing Owl that cannot be found in circulation or in any other coin set.
Canadian artist Pierre Girard captures the beauty of an endangered prairie species on the reverse of this one-dollar specimen coin. Viewed from the side, the pigeon-sized burrowing owl presents a three-quarter profile that allows for close examination of its stilt-like legs and mottled plumage. Its head is turned towards the rear as the bird of prey fixes its gaze on something that lies to the right, beyond the coin’s rim; this positioning provides a view of the bird’s facial features, including the beak and large eyes that give the owl a wise and studious expression. Blades of grass rise up behind it, alluding to its nesting grounds in Canada’s open prairies and grasslands, while small mounds of dirt hint at the owl’s unique penchant for nesting in underground burrows. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.