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Rare Half Male, Half Female Cardinal in PA

Rare Half Male, Half Female Cardinal in PA

Double-take!  A rare half-male, half-female Cardinal has been spotted in Grand Valley, Pennsylvania.  The birder, Jamie Hill, has been watching birds for over 48 years.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime rare bird alert, for sure! 


How can this happen?

Naturally, male Cardinals sport vibrant red feathers, especially in the Spring during mating season.  Meanwhile, the female has a more buff look with red highlights on the tips of her feathers and tuft on her head.

Also known as “half-siders” among Ornithologists, it is a trait known as sexual dimorphism.  The iconic plumage of the male cardinal makes it more recognizable than in other species.

This rare Cardinal was half male and half female:  It was half red and half buff.

The scientific name for this is Gynandromorphism.  It is when an organism contains both male and female characteristics.   In early development, the chromosomes that cause male and female development do not separate properly during mitotosis.  As a result, the organism has tissue that is largely female AND male.

What is even more crazy is how the photographer describes the bird:

“This bird would have a functioning ovary on its left side and a functioning single testis on its right,” Hill wrote, adding, “Theoretically, this bird could either mate with a normal male cardinal and lay fertile eggs, or it could mate with a normal female cardinal and father her eggs!”

This paradox also occurs in many insects and crustaceans.

To read more about Jamie Hill’s experience and to see more of his photos, click on the FB screenshot below.

Hope you enjoyed this rare bird alert!

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