Biologists Find Rare Half-Male, Half-Female Bird
Rose-breasted Grosbeak gynandromorph. Photo credit: Annie Lindsay.
Researchers from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History were recently able to catch and band an incredibly rare bird “that’s genetically part male and part female, split down the middle and displaying the vibrantly colored characteristics of both sexes,” according to IFLScience.com.
The bird, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak gynandromorph, was found at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, Pennsylvania. These birds are genetically part male and part female, with the male characteristics found on the right and the female characteristics on the left in this case.
“The entire banding team was very excited to see such a rarity up close, and are riding the high of this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Annie Lindsay, bird banding program manager at Powdermill, said in a statement. “One of them described it as ‘seeing a unicorn’ and another described the adrenaline rush of seeing something so remarkable. They all are incredibly grateful to be part of such a noteworthy and interesting banding record. Bilateral gynandromorphism, while very uncommon, is normal and provides an excellent example of a fascinating genetic process that few people ever encounter.”
The team is now curious to see if the bird can successfully breed. While it’s theoretically possible, they believe there is a chance that the unusual feather pattern may trigger a territorial response from other males.