Northern cardinal with rare abnormality observed in Texas

A rare northern cardinal was caught and banded in central Texas recently, and its coloring is even more fascinating than the yellow northern cardinal that was recently spotted in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Members of the Inland Bird Banding Association believe this cardinal is has bilateral gynandromorphism, which is a rare abnormality where a species has both male and female characteristics and organs.

The condition does not occur in humans, but can occur in birds, crustaceans, and insects.

It’s believed that the abnormality is caused in birds when an egg ends up with two sex chromosomes, instead of one.

If an egg accidentally ends up with two chromosomes—a Z and a W—and if this aberrant egg is fertilized by two Z-carrying sperm, the bird that results will have some ZZ cells and some ZW cells and it may have both male and female physical characteristics.

The IBBA, which shared the striking photos of the unique bird, said such birds have both male and female feathers. They also have both an ovary and a testis.

This isn’t the first time a northern cardinal with bilateral gynandromorphism has been spotted. One has been seen in Pennsylvania and another was observed in Illinois in 2008.

Isn’t this bird gorgeous? I already love cardinals, but this one is absolutely beautiful.

Share this if you’ve never seen a northern cardinal like this before.