What Are You Doing for International Bat Night?

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The photographs on the 2002 American Bats stamps were taken by Dr. Merlin D. Tuttle of Bat Conservation International, Inc. The bats were released unharmed after being photographed.

Normally we talk about bats in October, with Halloween just around the corner. But we decided to focus on these creepy-cute creatures today not only because tonight is International Bat Night but also because bats in the United States are in danger and need our help.

Bats have long been feared and misunderstood, but did you know they are actually beneficial to humans? Of approximately 950 bat species in the world, 45 are found in North America. They help balance populations of night-flying insects, including mosquitoes in our backyards and pests that cost farmers billions of dollars annually. Bats also disperse seeds from fruits, and they are vital to the pollination of desert plants in the American Southwest.

Other bat-tastic facts:

  • Bats are not blind. In fact, many have superb night vision.
  • Bats possess sonar and use a process called echolocation to distinguish prey from obstacles while in flight. They can distinguish general background noise from echoes that carry important information, and each bat in a cave full of other bats is able to follow its own signals.
  • Contrary to myth, contracting rabies from bats is an extremely remote threat for anyone who vaccinates pets, avoids handling unfamiliar animals, and seeks medical advice if bitten.

In 2002, we issued a pane of stamps featuring photographs of four different bats found in the continental U.S. Since then, bat survival has been seriously threatened.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, white-nose syndrome, which was discovered around 2006, has killed millions of bats in more than 20 states across the country. This fungal infection causes hibernating bats to wake up too early in winter, when there are very few insects around for them to eat. Scientists are studying the disease, but there is no treatment yet. Other bats are threatened by the destruction of their habitats.

To find out what you can do to help, the best place to start is Bat Conservation International, an organization based in Austin, Texas, that is dedicated to protecting and restoring bats and their habitats worldwide. You can read about bats and their environments, learn how to build a backyard bat house, and even read some bat poetry!

And don’t forget about International Bat Night, held every year in August. Check local listings for an event near you.

New Releases Showcase Bobcat and Eagle

We were at the American Philatelic Society StampShow today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to dedicate two stamp products.

Bobcat Folk Art pairThe first, the lovely little 1-cent Bobcat stamp, was first issued in 2012 in coils of 3,000 stamps. This year it’s available in coils of 10,000 water-activated gum stamps. You can use them in combination with other stamps to mail just about anything.

We also dedicated the new Folk Art Eagle stamped envelope, which features a photograph of a plaque that shows an eagle carrying two American flags and a shield. The envelope is being issued at the Forever® rate and in three standard sizes: #10 regular and window, #9 regular and window, and #6-3/4 regular and window.

“The Postal Service’s stamp program has focused attention on events, ideals, and people who have made this nation great,” said Stamp Services and Corporate Licensing Director Susan McGowan. “These include national symbols like the bald eagle, which has long been depicted on postage.” (Check out our Pinterest board dedicated to eagles on stamps!)

The Bobcat stamp and Folk Art Eagle stamped envelope are now available at usps.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

New Stamped Card May Show Key Deer

Deer

The Deer stamped card’s Forever® rate means that its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail postcard rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after purchase. Click the image for details.

The delicate creature prancing across the new Deer stamped card is a bit of a mystery. Because it’s more fanciful than realistic, it’s hard to pin down exactly what type of deer it could be—but if Sherlock Homes were here, he might deduce that it’s a Key deer. Put on your (forgive the pun) deerstalker cap, and follow the trail of clues as we make the case.

  • Cattails: The rare and endangered Key deer is found only in the Florida Keys, where cattails, like the ones that surround the deer in the artwork, thrive in the state’s many wetlands.
  • Small size: Sometimes called “toy deer,” Key deer stand only about two feet high at the shoulder. Newborn fawns are tiny, weighing just two to four pounds. If the cattails in the artwork are growing close to the ground, they’d be the right height in comparison to a Key deer.
  • Tendency to travel: Just like a stamped card, which doesn’t even wait for a stamp to move around the country, Key deer get around. They swim between islands in the Florida Keys when they get the urge to move on.

If you’d like to see the enchanting Key deer in person, you can visit the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, about 30 miles north of Key West. This delicate animal is a subspecies of the much larger white-tailed deer, which is found throughout much of the United States.

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Mule Deer

The new Deer stamped card bounded into mailboxes in March, but did you know that besides being a fun way to send greetings, this card may also be able to tell you which part of the United States you live in?

Here’s the test: When you look at the deer created by artist Cathie Bleck, do you see a white-tailed deer or a mule deer? If you answered “mule deer,” it’s a good bet that you live out West!

The Deer (Forever®) Stamped Card is being issued as a Forever® stamped card. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail postcard rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after purchase.


The Deer (Forever®) Stamped Card is being issued as a Forever® stamped card. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail postcard rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after purchase. Click the image for details.

OK, we admit that our test hasn’t been vetted by actual scientists. But because the graceful deer on the card is more fanciful than realistic, we think it can represent any number of deer species—and perhaps it reminds you of the type of deer you might spot in your home state.

Whether you have yet to see your first “mulie” or have one passing through your backyard at this very moment, here’s an introduction to the second most common deer species in the country.

  • West of the Mississippi, mule deer are more common than white-tailed deer. They can live in deserts, mountain forests, or on the plains.
  • Mule deer are named for their long, mule-like ears.
  • Mule deer have a unique way of running away from predators. They leap high into the air, jumping and landing on all four feet at once. This series of bounds lets them quickly make their way up steep mountain slopes.
  • Mule deer live an average of ten years in the wild—despite living alongside pack-hunting predators such as wolves and coyotes.

The Deer stamped card is currently available online at usps.com/stamps (search for “deer”).

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day, a day to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us. Established in the U.S. in 1970, Earth Day is now the largest civic event in the world, with families, schools, and communities around the globe coming together to reflect on the environment, the planet, and what we can do to keep them healthy for future generations.

The U.S. Postal Service is proud of its long tradition of celebrating the natural world. From wildlife Forever® stamps to seeded postcards, and everything in between, we’ve got just the right thing to help you make every day Earth Day.

1. The spicebush swallowtail is one of the most beautiful and intriguing of the swallowtail butterflies. This stamp may be used for square envelopes weighing up to and including one ounce. 2. The ten Vintage Seed Packets stamps feature photographs of antique seed packets (printed between 1910 to 1920), cropped to highlight their beautiful floral detail. The stamps are available separately or as part of this charming set of notecards. 3. The Lady Bird Johnson stamp sheet commemorates the centennial of Mrs. Johnson’s birth and honors her legacy of preserving and beautifying America. The sheet features six stamps, five of which were originally issued in the 1960s. 4. The New Mexico Statehood stamp showcases the peaks of Cerro de Santa Clara and Cerro de Guadalupe in northern New Mexico. 5. Earlier this year, USPS issued a stamped envelope featuring the bank swallow, the smallest swallow in North America.

1. The Grandest Things (116 pages) uses breathtaking images and historic stamps to explore how our national park system began. 2. This Nature of America: Kelp Forest stamped card booklet features ten 44-cent postal cards. 3. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the Save Vanishing Species™ First-Class Semipostal stamp (which features an Amur tiger cub) benefits conservation funds that are helping create hope for the future. The notecard set includes ten cards, ten envelopes, and ten semipostal stamps. 4. The 42-cent Sunflower stamped stationery is now on sale! (Please note that extra postage is required.) 5. Share the pristine beauty of America’s natural wonders with the Scenic American Landscapes stamped cards: Set 1 and Set 2. Each set of 20 cards features ten spectacular landscapes (two cards of each image) based on previously released postage stamps. Postage is pre-printed on the cards.

1. The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, stamp captures the beauty of the rural landscape as an Amish buggy travels along a country road, passing one of the region’s iconic farms. 2. The four Apples postcard stamps showcase some of America’s favorite varieties. (Can you name then all?) 3. Birds of prey, also known as raptors, thrive in diverse habitats and live on every continent except Antarctica. The 85-cent Birds of Prey stamps salute five kings of the sky: the northern goshawk, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, osprey, and northern harrier. 4. This set of ten 44-cent Nature of America: Hawaiian Rain Forest stamped postal cards depicts 24(!) different species. (Additional postage is required for First-Class mail rate.) 5. The Go Green (Forever®) stamps illustrate simple things we each can do every day to save the environment, while the Go Green seeded postcards are an exciting and eco-friendly way to keep in touch and share the go green message.

1. The Louisiana Statehood stamp features a photograph of Flat Lake, which is located in the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest contiguous river swamp in the U.S. Its bayous are home to alligators, crawfish, snakes, turtles, nutria, owls, and eagles. 2. The panoramic Cherry Blossom Centennial stamps commemorates Tokyo’s gift of cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington D.C. as a sign of growing friendship between Japan and the U.S. The matching set of letterpress notecards includes eight cards (four different designs) and envelopes, and eight stamps. 3. The Purple Martin Forever® stamped envelope comes in either a pack of 5 or a box of 500 envelopes. A favorite backyard bird, the purple martin is the largest swallow in North America. 4. The international rate Glacier National Park stamp showcases what many describe as one of the most stunning national parks in the U.S. 5. The Global Forever® stamp offers a single price for any one-ounce First-Class Mail International letter to any country in the world.

1. On the Deer stamped card, a fanciful graphic of a golden deer, surrounded by gold and green cattails and grasses, captures the graceful look of an animal that is found in many countries around the world. 2. With the 86-cent Tufted Puffins stamp, USPS celebrates the tufted puffin. The birds have adapted to an unusually broad range of ocean habitats, raising their young anywhere from southern California to arctic Alaska. 3. Each of the ten Garden of Love notecards features a different, boldly-colored flora or fauna element emerging from a curling vine outline, and set against a teal blue background. 4. The Arizona Statehood stamp features the colorful and much admired sandstone rock formations of Sedona, Arizona. 5. USPS commemorated the 500th anniversary of the naming of Florida with the release earlier this year of the La Florida (Forever®) stamps, which celebrate the state’s floral abundance. A beautiful matching set of eight notecards, envelopes, and stamps is also available.

Did we miss your favorite nature-inspired stamp? Tell us about it in the comments.