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SEWARD, AK — The Tufted Puffin, an unmistakable foot-and-a-half tall bird that hunts to 200 feet underwater and is found on the U.S. coast from California to Alaska, can now be seen nationwide when it takes flight on a new stamp today. The 86-cent Tufted Puffin stamp is good for mailing domestic First-Class letters weighing up to 3 ounces.
The stamps can be purchased at usps.com/stamps or by phone at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide in preparation for the Jan. 27 price change.
The stamp artwork features a painting of two tufted puffins by artist Robert Giusti of Bridgewater, CT, under the art direction of Derry Noyes of Washington, DC. Both birds sport the striking tufts of long, yellow feathers that give the tufted puffin its name, plumage that only appears during breeding season.
Puffins, also known as sea parrots because of their large bills, are diving birds in the auk family. The tufted puffin is the largest of the three puffin species, standing roughly 15 inches tall. Found on the open ocean, islands and coastal areas of the North Pacific, the tufted puffin’s true home is the sea, as it hunts underwater and spends most of its life far from land. The birds have adapted to an unusually broad range of ocean habitats, raising their young anywhere from southern California to arctic Alaska. In the U.S., tufted puffins can be also found in Oregon and Washington.
Deep Water Diners
Tufted puffins catch their meals underwater. They dive to a maximum depth of 200 feet, and then use their wings to propel themselves through the water, looking as if they are flying through the sea. In addition to squid and crustaceans, most tufted puffins dine on bottom fish, indicating that they spend some time searching the seafloor for food. Once the birds have caught their prey, they consume it underwater as well.
During breeding season, male and female tufted puffins congregate in a breeding colony, usually located on an offshore island or cliff edge. Each pair works together to dig a burrow that can reach more than 5 feet long. The female then lays one egg, which both parents incubate. The chick hatches after about six weeks, transforming the parents into a fish delivery service. Tufted puffins travel up to 60 miles in search of food for their young, carrying a line of up to 20 small fish tucked crosswise in their bills at a time. After six or seven weeks, the young birds announce their independence by flying or walking into the sea. They may not return to land for several years. With breeding season over, the parents also leave the colony for the open ocean. Some 800 tufted puffin breeding colonies can now be found in North America.
Customers may view the Tufted Puffins stamps, as well as many of this year’s other stamps on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, on Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at beyondtheperf.com/2013-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online source for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.
Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first day of issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at usps.com/stamps, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
Tufted Puffins Stamp
507 Madison Ave.
Seward, AK 99664-9800
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by March 23, 2013.
Ordering First-Day Covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014
There are seven philatelic products available for this stamp issue:
- 115006, Press Sheet with die cuts, $103.20 (Print Quantity of 2,500).
- 115008, Press Sheet without die cuts, $103.20 (Print Quantity of 2,500).
- 115010, Keepsake (Pane & Digital Postmark Set), $19.95.
- 115016, First-Day Cover, $1.30.
- 115021, Digital Color Postmark, $2.01.
- 115031, Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
- 115032, Stamp Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $2.36.
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