Story at a glance
- A half-male, half-female cardinal was spotted by a birder in Erie, Pa.
- The bilateral gynandromorph is a rare occurrence in nature, last spotted in 2019.
- Unusual for gynandromorphs, this bird can reproduce, which means there could be more than one in the area.
If you're traveling around Pennsylvania and think you see a cardinal, you might want to stop and take a picture. It could be the rare half-male, half-female cardinal recently captured on camera by a local birder.
"It was one of the experiences of a lifetime," birder Jamie Hill told the Erie Times-News Tuesday about the "pretty unusual" bird. "Bird divided right down the middle, half male and half female."
The 69-year-old traveled about 55 miles southeast of Erie to Warren County, Pa., to take the photograph from his car, parked a distance away, after a friend of a friend spotted it behind their home. While they haven't revealed the exact location, Hill says you should keep "your eyes open for this bird or one like it."
The bilateral gynandromorph (a half-male, half-female chimera) has been spotted in Pennsylvania before after all, the last time in 2019 by Erie residents and birders Jeffrey and Shirley Caldwell. It could be the same one — or one of its offspring, considering the Caldwell’s often spotted it with a companion.
“Most gynandromorph individuals are infertile, but this one may actually be fertile as the left side is female, and only the left ovary in birds is functional," Daniel Hooper, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, told National Geographic.
"This has been the most exciting," Hill told the Erie Times-News, adding that he was especially "excited to photograph it, to scientifically document it."
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