The largest member of the grouse family, the capercaillie is known for its spectacular courtship display during the mating season. Containing half an ounce of gold and minted to the very highest standards in Proof quality only, the third coin in the Austrian Mint’s Wildlife in our Sights series is equally spectacular.
Less widespread than the other animals in the series, the capercaillie lives in coniferous, mixed and deciduous woodland where it spends the night roosting in trees. The habitat of the capercaillie is disappearing and this most striking of birds is now extinct in a number of European countries. Austria is, however, one of the last countries where the capercaillie, though rare, still exists in relatively large numbers.
The coin’s obverse shows the bird in its natural habitat, with its head held high and fan-like tail upright, performing its long and distinctive mating call. The male’s increased testosterone levels mean that it can be particularly aggressive during the mating season, but the coin’s reverse shows this large bird’s softer side as it nestles alongside its much smaller mate. The upland woodland in which the capercaillie dwells is represented in the shape of conifers and a rocky outcrop.
Below left is the standard coin packaging and the optional collection box. The other images are both sides of the 2014 coin.