Bank Swallow Stamped Envelope Takes Flight

Nature lovers will be aflutter now that the U.S. Postal Service is releasing the Bank Swallow Forever Stamped Envelope today, March 1.

The 58-cent Forever stamped envelopes (46-cent Forever stamp and 12-cent envelope surcharge), good for mailing 1-ounce First Class letters anytime in the future regardless of price changes, are available at usps.com/stamps.

The product is available in #10 regular and window envelopes; #9 regular and window envelopes; and, #6 ¾ regular and window envelopes.

The stamp art is the work of illustrator Matthew Frey of Annapolis, MD, under the direction of Bill Gicker of Washington, DC. Frey’s work is based on photographs which show a large illustration of the swallow perching and a smaller illustration of the bird in flight.

A licensed Master Falconer, Frey is an officer of the Potomac Falconers Association, the oldest falconry organization in the United States, and is a founding officer of the West Virginia Falconry Club.

Bank Swallow

The bank swallow (Riparia riparia) is the smallest swallow in North America and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. About five inches long, the slender bird digs nesting burrows in riverbanks, gravel pits and even highway cuts. Both males and females help dig the tunnel, first pecking out a shallow hole with their beaks, then using their feet to kick out the dirt.

Like all swallows, bank swallows are agile songbirds that specialize in catching insects in midair. A typical bank swallow colony can have anywhere from ten to nearly 2,000 nests. A sandbank riddled with holes, especially one near a river or lake, is likely to be the home of a colony of bank swallows.

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Rakesh Raman