Amateur Photog’s Blue Jay Pix Wins USDA Photo Contest

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Two beautiful blue jays, one caught mid-flight with a peanut in his beak, won the USDA sponsored Cutest Bird Photo Contest for February. Shannon Mayer of Elgin, IL submitted the photo, which won in the category of “Cutest Bird Family.”

Shannon Mayer's Winning Photo

“I have such interesting characters visiting my yard that I set up a tripod and starting taking photos,” she says.

Two beautiful blue jays, one caught mid-flight with a peanut in his beak, won the USDA sponsored Cutest Bird Photo Contest for February. Shannon Mayer of Elgin, IL submitted the photo, which won in the category of “Cutest Bird Family.”

“I have several feeders in my backyard for various animals,” said Mayer, “And this handsome couple comes around regularly to enjoy the peanuts that I offer.” The photo is featured on the Biosecurity For Birds website http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov until the middle of April when the March winners will go up.

Mayer, who works from home, just took up the hobby of feeding birds, squirrels and other stray animals in her back yard six months ago. “I have such interesting characters visiting my yard that I set up a tripod and starting taking photos,” she says. “I now have the neighborhood reputation as that ‘crazy animal lady.’”

“Blue jays are the most aggressive birds I see,” she says. “The ones who visit my yard are also the fattest.”

Her whole family enjoys her new hobby, she says and her grandson, Michael, will get a camera for his upcoming 4th birthday so he can join her in taking pictures.

Mayer learned about the contest by searching for bird photo competitions through Google. She said she made a point to read through the USDA Biosecurity For Birds website to learn more about keeping her bird visitors healthy.

“I have separate feeders and a heated waterer and I clean them all thoroughly and regularly,” she says. “I’m determined to keep this a healthy environment for the animals.” She notes that she also stays a reasonable distance away from the birds that she is watching or photographing.

The Cutest Bird Photo Contest began in December 2014 and will run through March 31. 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 Birds Calendar. For an entry form, contest rules and more information visit http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov

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 might be ill.

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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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