Purple martin artwork on latest stamped envelope

The purple martin, one of America’s most-popular songbirds and one found in Colorado chiefly on the Western Slope, is being featured on the U.S. Post Office’s latest stamped envelope.

America’s largest swallow, the purple martin, is the latest songbird to be featured on a U.S. Post Office stamped envelope.

The stamp art includes a large illustration of a purple martin perching and a smaller illustration showing the bird in flight.

According to the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, purple martins are listed as a sensitive species in the U.S. Forest Service Region 2, which includes Colorado.

The insect-eating bird occurs mostly in western parts of the state and as recently as 18 years ago, only 24 breeding locations were confirmed in western Colorado.

That number has now climbed to 136 nesting colonies throughout western Colorado.

Studies show purple martins in Colorado nest in old-growth aspen stands near open meadows with water nearby. Rather than using nesting boxes as other purple martin populations, Colorado martins use natural cavities that have been excavated by northern flickers and other woodpeckers.

According to the bird conservation group Partners in Flight, purple martins arrive in Colorado by early June and depart on autumn migration by late August.

The RMBO says the Colorado population probably represents the largest population of naturally nesting martins in the U.S. and Canada.

Purple martins winter in South America, chiefly in parts of Venezuela, Bolivia and southeastern Brazil.

The birds also are considered a rare breeder in the northern and central part of Utah, where they also use natural cavities in aspen and coniferous forests.

Postal Service art director William J. Gicker of Washington, D.C., designed the stamped envelopes using illustrations by artist Matthew Frey of Annapolis, Md.

The stamped envelope is being issued as a Forever stamped envelope. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the first-class mail 1-ounce price in effect anytime in the future.

The envelope is available at post offices nationwide, online at usps.com/shop and by phone at 800-782-6724.


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