Grebe Family and One-Eyed Rooster Win USDA’s April Cutest Bird Photo Contest

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An inspiring disabled rooster and a family of shy pied-billed grebes are the winners in the USDA Cutest Bird Photo Contest for the month of April. Anna Seigler of Augusta, Georgia and Gene Wright of Sandusky, Ohio took the prizes in each of two categories in the Biosecurity For Birds competition.

Sista Eddie

An inspiring disabled rooster and a family of shy pied-billed grebes are the winners in the USDA Cutest Bird Photo Contest for the month of April. Anna Seigler of Augusta, Georgia and Gene Wright of Sandusky, Ohio took the prizes in each of two categories in the Biosecurity For Birds competition.

Wright’s photo, taken in a fleeting moment, of a mother grebe and her two babies, won in the category of Cutest Bird Family. “I was very lucky. These are shy birds, particularly the babies, and I caught them just as the wind rippled the water,” he said.

Wright and his wife, Sandy, are avid wildlife photographers. They stopped at the Viera Wetlands on a trip to visit friends in Florida. “It’s a wonderful, innovative place, part of a sewage treatment plant,” he said.    

The wildlife habitat includes original storage ponds of treated effluent for a water reclamation facility managed by Brevard County. The 200 acres of wetlands are divided into four cells at various water levels, each cell offering a different and unique environment for specific wildlife. Bird lovers can see a variety of species, especially waterfowl, long legged waders, and raptors.

Sista Eddie, a proud southern-bred rooster, won the Cutest Bird category. Born blind in one eye with a “scissor beak” that kept him from being able to eat on his own, the disabled baby chick was surely a goner until Seigler adopted him and fed him by hand. Years later, on a trip to Hilton Head, Siegler set him on the pedestal outside of a charming church they passed in Bluffton, SC. “I called to him,” she recalled, “and when he turned to look at me with his one good eye, I snapped the photo.”

The popular bird died last year at age ten. “He had a very full life,” Siegler said, “He visited underprivileged children and people with disabilities as a symbol for them to ‘Hold on to Hope.’ He has a book about his life and even has his own website: http://www.sistaeddie.com .”

The four-month Cutest Bird Photo Contest began in March. At the end of each month, the winning photos will be posted on the Biosecurity For Birds’ website. The winners will be considered for inclusion on the 2014 Biosecurity For Bird’s Calendar. For an entry form, contest rules and more information visit https://web01.aphis.usda.gov/biobird_contest.nsf/contest_entry?OpenForm.

The Biosecurity For Birds program, begun in 2004, is designed to educate backyard poultry owners and bird enthusiasts about highly contagious poultry diseases and other threats to birds. The program helps inform bird lovers how to prevent disease and tells them what to do if they suspect their birds are infected.

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Media representatives may contact Joelle Hayden at joelle.r.hayden(at)aphis(dot)usda(dot)gov (301) 851-4040 or Pam Goldstein at pgoldstein(at)diversitymc(dot)com 973-377-0300, Ext. 14.

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