Mixed sex birds are rare, but they very much exist. Retired ornithologist Jamie Hill, spotted an incredibly rare cardinal in Pennsylvania. The bird is half-female and half-male. Male cardinals are bright red but females are pale brown, suggesting this specimen may be a mix of the two sexes.
So when a friend of Mr Hill told him that she had seen an “unusual bird” coming to her bird feeders in Warren County in the state of Pennsylvania, Mr. Hill rushed with his camera to capture the rare event.
Jim thought that the bird may have lost the pigmentation of his feathers, a phenomenon known as , Leucism.
But after thoroughly going through the mobile pictures, Jim confirmed that the had bilateral gynandromorphism, which is when a bird would have both a functioning ovary and a functioning single testis. It is apparently caused by a mistake during cell division.
An egg and its associated polar body are fertilized by separate sperm. The resulting individual is a male-female chimera.
“After I captured the images, my heart was pounding for the next five hours until I could get home and process the digital images to see what I actually had,” Mr Hill explained to BBC.
“I have been searching for the long-thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker for almost two decades, and photographing this rare version of one of our most common backyard birds, this gynandromorph northern cardinal, was almost as exciting as I think I would get if I actually found the woodpecker,” he said.
Half-female, half-male birds are a very rare phenomenon is a very rare phenomenon, that often goes undetected in many bird species. Mr. Hill wrote how this was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in his birding experience of 48 years.