Rare Cardinal That’s Half-Male and Half-Female | 22 Words

A Pennsylvania bird watcher had a "once-in-a-lifetime" encounter when a rare cardinal perched in a tree appeared to be both male and female.

Keep scrolling to find out more about why this rare bird is so special...

Now, it may not be for everyone...

But bird watching is actually a wonderfully popular activity.

Surrounded by nature and silence, people can find it very calming.

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And the number of birds you can be lucky enough to encounter is endless!

Fro example you may spot: The Secretary Bird...

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What an expressive face!

Or the Goura Victoria...

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Jealous of that fascinator.

The Gray Nightjar...

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Literally looks like a rock.

The Longtailed Tit...

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What a cutie!

The Mountain Bluebird...

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Looks like a child's painting!

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon...

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Amazing colors.

The Grandala...

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Definitely winning the prize for best name.

The Quetzel...

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Truly amazing colors.

The Bohemian Waxwing...

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A killer hairstyle!

The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher...

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Loving these bright tones.

The Black-Throated Bush Tit...

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Now that's a tongue-twister.

The Crested Duck...

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Literally looks like it's wearing a wig.

The Inca Tern...

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We'd never seen a bird with a mustache before.

The Mandarin Duck...

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Now this is a duck.

The Golden Pheasant...

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Truly majestic.

Or, you may be fortunate in spotting a Northern Cardinal.


Known colloquially as the redbird, this bird can mainly be found across southeastern Canada and eastern areas of the United States.

While the cardinal itself is not particularly rare, one man in Pennsylvania has spotted one that is...


As it's half male and half female.

James R. Hill III spotted the "one in a million" bird after being notified by a friend about an unusual bird visiting feeders outside a home near Grand Valley, Pennsylvania.

At first, Hill wondered if the bird was leucistic - a term that means the specimen would have a loss of pigmentation in its feathers.

But after seeing a photograph of it, he suspected that it was a gynandromorphic bird, whereby it is half male and half female.

Hill visited the site that the Cardinal had been previously spotted and over the course of an hour he was able to photograph it.

In a Facebook post he wrote: "During our 1-hour stay, the bird came to the feeders only once (with 5 other cardinals), but thankfully it perched out in the open briefly in two other trees and I was able to shoot about 50 images."

As per the BBC, Hill said: "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."

"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."

So, how this possible?

Well, in Hill's Facebook post he explained just that, writing: "According to Dr. Daniel Hooper, who was a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2019 and who was contacted by National Geographic for their article: "sex determination in birds is a little different than in mammals. In mammals, males have one copy of each sex chromosome (X and Y) while females have two copies of the X chromosome. In birds, it's the opposite.

"Their sex chromosomes are called Z and W, and it's the females that have a single copy of each (ZW), whereas the males have two of the same (ZZ). Sex cells' nuclei, including sperm and eggs, usually have only one copy of either chromosome — males produce only Z-carrying sperm, and females produce either Z- or W-carrying eggs.

"Gynandromorphy, like that in this cardinal, occurs when a female egg cell develops with two nuclei — one with a Z and one with a W — and it's "double fertilized" by two Z-carrying sperm."

He further added: "Gynandromorphs, known as "half-siders" among ornithologists, are uncommon, but not unheard of."

"They likely occur across all species of birds, but we're only likely to notice them in species where the adult males and females look distinct from each other, a trait known as sexual dimorphism. Cardinals are one of the most well-known sexually dimorphic birds in North America — their bright red plumage in males is iconic [with females being buffy brownish] — so people easily notice when they look different."

You can read his full post here:

How incredible!

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