Come September 1 there will be another national park postage stamp to add to your collection. That's when the First Day Issue of the Nature of America: Hawaiian Rain Forest stamp comes out.
If you're lucky enough to be visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on that day, the official dedication ceremony will be held at the hula platform near the Kīlauea Visitor Center from 11 a.m. to noon and include remarks by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Congresswoman Maize Hirono, Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and U.S. Postal Service Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Donahoe.
The colorful stamp was designed by artist John Dawson, a Hilo resident, who also will be on hand to share his perspectives on inspiration for the artwork. During the ceremony Kumu Hula Ab Kawainohoikala‘i Valencia with Hālau Hula Kalehuaki‘eki‘eika‘iu will offer an oli and hula and Waiākea High School Navy JROTC Color Guard will conduct Presentation of Colors.
The Postal Service will sell and cancel the Hawaiian Rain Forest stamp panes and stamped postal cards from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai. The event is free and park entrance fees will be waived until noon.
According to park officials, the Hawaiian Rain Forest is the 12th and final stamp pane in the Nature of America series, an educational series focusing on the beauty and complexity of major plant and animal communities in the United States. Dawson painted all scenes in the series.
The setting for the stamp pane is a rain forest on the island of Hawai‘i. To illustrate the spectacular biodiversity of this ecosystem, Dawson depicted more than 24 different plant and animal species in his colorful acrylic painting. The leaves and branches of mature ‘ōhi‘a trees dominate the forest canopy. Below, the lush understory is dense with ferns, saplings, flowering trees, and shrubs.
Colorful blossoms attract honeycreepers such as the scarlet ‘i‘iwi, whose long, curved bill allows it to reach the nectar of tubular hāhā flowers. An ‘amakihi sips the nectar of red ‘ōhi‘a lehua blossoms, while an ‘ākepa glides toward the same tree, where it will glean insects from leaf buds. The Hawaiian thrush known as ‘ōma‘o prefers fruits and berries.
Small insects and spiders are visible near the bottom and center of the painting. A Kamehameha butterfly lays eggs on the leaves of māmaki, its primary host plant. Among the smallest creatures is the happyface spider, shown in extreme close-up at lower right in the painting.
Only one mammal—the ‘ōpe‘ape‘a, or Hawaiian hoary bat—is native to the rain forests of Hawai‘i. This fast-flying, insect-eating bat gets its name from the frosty appearance of its grayish-brown fur.
Previous Nature of America issuances 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).