Cardinal takes wing

The Postal Service has released a prepaid envelope adorned with the image of a northern cardinal.

The Northern Cardinal Stamped Envelope is designed to provide customers with convenient, prepaid correspondence. It was issued July 9.

The envelope features an illustration of the popular red songbird perched on an evergreen branch. Artist Kandis Vermeer Phillips based the illustration on photographs. Antonio Alcalá, an art director for USPS, designed the envelope.

Male cardinals sport bright red plumage while females are a gray brown dusted with red.

The birds are a popular mascot for sports teams and a familiar Yuletide symbol.

Seven states have named it their state bird, more than any other species.

The envelope is being issued as a Forever stamped envelope, meaning it will always be equal in value to the stamped envelope rate at time of use.

The No. 6 size envelope measures 6.5 inches by 3.625 inches.

The Northern Cardinal Stamped Envelope is available at Post Offices and on