U.S. # 4998
2015 35¢ King Eider
Coastal Birds Coil
In the spring, king eider ducks find mates and travel to their breeding grounds near small lakes and ponds in the Arctic tundra. They arrive in June or July, and the female prepares a shallow nest. The male soon returns to the ocean to molt, while the female incubates the eggs. She rarely leaves her nest, losing a third of her body weight during this time.
When the ducklings hatch, they are able to find their own food. Several broods join together, and the females cooperate in their care. When the ducklings are strong enough, they are led from their protected waters to the seacoast. There the young will gain strength and flying skills needed for their first migration flight to the wintering sites.
As winter tightens its grip on the tundra, the king eiders gather in flocks of over 10,000 to migrate to slightly warmer areas. Most settle in the open waters of the Aleutian Islands off the Alaska Peninsula or in Newfoundland and New England along the Atlantic coast. There, the duck dives to the seabed, sometimes 150 feet down, to get mussels, fish, and crustaceans.
When the frozen Arctic waters begin to thaw, the king eider seems to sense it is time to return to its nesting site. Once again the great flocks form, this time for the flight back to the North.
The 2015 Coastal Birds stamps feature stylized illustrations by Tyler Lang and were designed by Greg Breeding.
Value: 35¢ Postcard Rate
Issued: June 1, 2015
First Day City: Kansas City, MO
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Ashton Potter
Method: Offset with microprinting in coils of 100
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 9 ½ Vertically
Quantity Printed: 150,000,000 stamps
The 2015 Coastal Birds were the first postcard rate issues to be released as Forever stamps (with “Postcard” replacing the denomination, so it’s clear what the stamps are to be used for.