Beautiful Southern Swamp Coming to New Postcards

Issued in 2007 at the international rate as part of the Scenic American Landscapes series, Okefenokee Swamp encompasses nearly 700 square miles in southeastern Georgia and a small portion of northern Florida. The Okefenokee Swamp serves as the headwaters for the Suwannee and Saint Marys Rivers and is home to a wide range of animal and plant life, from alligators, cranes, and black bears to cypress trees and carnivorous plants.

This area, which derives its name from a Native American term meaning “land of the trembling earth,” includes the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which comprises approximately 90 percent of the swamp, as well as Okefenokee Swamp Park.

This soothing stamp image of Okefenokee Swamp is one of 10 designs featured on the upcoming set of Scenic American Landscapes stamp cards. Scheduled for release on June 23, these beautiful postcards are the second set highlighting some of our nation’s most beautiful natural places.

Bobcat Stamp Making Its Mark in One Week

Mark your calendars! The new 1-cent Bobcat stamp will be issued one week from today in San Marcos, Texas.

Illustrator Nancy Stahl used photographs of bobcats as the basis for her highly stylized design. The bobcat’s golden eyes and pink nose make a striking contrast with its fur, rendered in shades of brown. We just love that face!

The 1-cent Bobcat stamp is being issued in coils of 3,000 at a price of $30.00. You can pre-order them online now!

Check back here soon for more details on the time and location of the ceremony. We hope to see you there!

Bobcat Stalks into 2012 Stamp Program

Later this year, USPS will issue a one-cent stamp featuring a bobcat (Lynx rufus). A member of the feline family found across the United States, the bobcat is a medium-size cat and a proficient hunter, stalking its prey with patience and stealth.

Bobcats are found in a wide range of terrestrial environments, including mountains, forests, and deserts. Their coats can range in color from beige to brown, with dark spots and stripes. Tufts of fur on the tips of their ears and short bobbed tails help distinguish bobcats from other felines. Bobcats are mostly nocturnal and live in solitude, finding dens in caves or rocks. They mark their territory with their scent. In the wild, bobcats can live more than 12 years.

Nationally-known illustrator Nancy Stahl worked with art director Carl T. Herrman on this highly stylized design. The bobcat’s golden eyes and pink nose make a striking contrast with its fur, rendered in shades of brown.

The stamp’s date of issue has not yet been set. When it has, we will post it here.

Wildlife in the Nature of America Stamp Series

In the spirit of National Wildlife Week, I’ve been thinking about the very popular Nature of America stamp series, which ran for 12 years, from 1999 to 2010. The series was meant to teach about the beauty and complexity of major plant and animal communities in the United States. Each sumptuous pane of ten stamps featured original artwork by John D. Dawson:

The 12th and last pane in the series focused on the Hawaiian rain forest. The setting for the pane is a rain forest on Hawaiʻi’s largest island, also named Hawaiʻi. As is typical, the leaves and branches of mature ʻōhiʻa lehua trees dominate the forest canopy. Below, the lush understory is dense with ferns and saplings, as well as flowering trees and shrubs that add bright touches to the countless shades of green. Colorful blossoms attract honeycreepers such as the scarlet ʻiʻiwi, whose long, curved bill allows it to reach the nectar of tubular hāhā flowers. An ʻamakihi sips the nectar of red ʻōhiʻa lehua blossoms, while an ʻākepa glides toward the same tree, where it will glean insects from leaf buds. A Hawaiian thrush known as the ʻōmaʻo prefers fruits and berries.

Small insects and spiders are difficult to spot among the thick vegetation of an actual rain forest, but a few are visible near the bottom and center of the painting. A Koele Mountain damselfly, for example, can be glimpsed clinging to a plant stem as a Kamehameha butterfly lays eggs on the leaves of a māmaki, its primary host plant. In its natural habitat, the cricket at lower left would more likely be heard rather than seen, chirping and trilling from one of its many hiding places. Among the smallest creatures is the happyface spider, shown in extreme close-up at lower right in the painting. Named for a facelike pattern on its body, this spider is less than a quarter of an inch in size (not counting the legs).

The scene on the pane is completely imaginary. Such a dense grouping was necessary in order to show as many plants and animals as possible in the stamp pane format. Even so, every species depicted could be encountered in a Hawaiian rain forest.

Previous panes in the Nature of America series were Sonoran Desert (1999), Pacific Coast Rain Forest (2000), Great Plains Prairie (2001), Longleaf Pine Forest (2002), Arctic Tundra (2003), Pacific Coral Reef (2004), Northeast Deciduous Forest (2005), Southern Florida Wetland (2006), Alpine Tundra (2007), Great Lakes Dunes (2008), and Kelp Forest (2009). You can read all about them, and the history of the series, on Beyond the Perf. And check out the underwater dedication ceremony for the Kelp Forest pane. The kids sound like they had a great time!

Peregrine Falcon Hunts with Agility and Grace

In the spirit of National Wildlife Week, I’m reading up on one of my favorite kinds of wildlife—at least, of the avian variety—the peregrine falcon.

The word “peregrine” means “wanderer.” In keeping with its name, the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) makes itself at home in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from tropical forests to ocean cliffs, tundra, deserts, and even cities. In North America, it breeds from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic southward, and many migrate along the coasts as far as southern South America. The peregrine falcon population declined steeply after World War II due to the widespread use of DDT and other pesticides, which caused the eggshells of many birds of prey to become too thin to support the weight of a mother bird. The peregrine population eventually rebounded after DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, and the American peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list in 1999.

When the peregrine falcon accelerates into its aerial hunting dive, its speed can reach 200 miles per hour (!). These high-speed stoops allow peregrines to catch a variety of birds on the wing, from city-dwelling pigeons to ducks. Immature peregrines are brown with buff-colored, heavily streaked underparts. Adults are slate-gray in color, with black, helmet-like markings on their heads, and buff-colored, lightly barred bellies. Peregrine coloring can vary by region—those in northwestern North America often have the darkest feathers, whereas those in the Arctic are notably pale.

This raptor’s majestic beauty while soaring through the air always amazes me. Such relatively small animals can have enormous strength and grace. Artist Robert Giusti‘s rendering of the peregrine captures all the drama of this falcon’s existence, and much more.

The 85-cent Birds of Prey stamps were issued in self-adhesive sheets of 20 at a price of $17.00 per sheet. These stamps are designed for heavier single-piece First-Class Mail weighing more than two ounces and up to and including three ounces.