Two years after featuring Painted Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and seven other species in a series of colorful first-class songbird stamps, the U.S. Postal Service is celebrating four birds that brighten cold winter days across North America — Golden-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Cardinal, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
The new Songbirds in Snow Forever stamps, pictured above, were dedicated August 4 at the American Philatelic Society’s Stampshow 2016, in Portland, Oregon.
The winter birds are the handiwork of well-known illustrator and designer Robert Giusti, who painted each in acrylic on canvas board. The Swiss-born artist also painted the songbirds that appeared on the 2014 stamps.
“The Postal Service has a long tradition of putting birds on stamps — to celebrate and raise awareness of these amazing creatures,” said Cliff Rucker, of the Postal Service. “And the four stamps we’re dedicating today,” he added, “are truly beautiful works of art.”
Here’s a mini-profile of each bird species depicted:
Though only a little larger than a hummingbird, Golden-crowned Kinglet can survive nighttime temperatures of -40°F. The tiny birds roost in evergreen forests and huddle together in small flocks high up in the branches to stay warm. Kinglets are wary of taking food from a bird feeder; their winter diet is made up mainly of dormant insects and their eggs as well as overwintering caterpillars.
Cedar Waxwing gets its name from its favorite winter food, cedar berries, and the waxy red tips of its wing feathers. One of the few North American birds that thrives on a diet of mostly fruits, the waxwing also consumes the winter fruits of the juniper, mistletoe, crabapple, and other plants. It generally inhabits open woodlands and hedgerows, but in winter it will join a flock around fruiting plants, including those in backyards and gardens.
The state bird for Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia, Northern Cardinal is found in thickets along forest edges or in shrubby, overgrown fields and hedgerows as well as in backyards. Cardinals usually appear in pairs but can gather in small flocks in winter. Their diet is mainly seeds and fruit, but they also eat insects. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders. Sunflower seeds are a favorite.
Listen for Red-breasted Nuthatch’s distinctive call: It sounds like a tiny toy horn. The bird prepares for winter by caching conifer seeds, a preferred food, in openings in tree bark. The nuthatch later collects the seeds as it walks headfirst down the trunk. It lives mainly in coniferous forests, but it is attracted to bird feeders, drawn particularly to sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet.
The new Songbirds in Snow Forever stamps are available in booklets of 20, with each of the four designs repeated five times. You can purchase stamps at your local Post Office, at the Postal Store website, or by calling 800-782-6724.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
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