Thursday, January 8, 2009

I just received the coolest bird photo I've seen in a long time. A retired colleague of mine (Tom Goodwin) got this from a friend of his who teaches in Rock Island, Illinois. This is a gynandromorph cardinal, half male and half female that is frequenting the feeders by his house. This is a genetic abnormality that happens when the sex chromosomes (Z and W in birds) do not separate normally during early embryonic development. Credit for this find goes to Bob Motz and the photos were taken by Jim Frink.



The above photo is the best one. The photos below are small but do allow you to view the bird from different angles.



It just goes to show that even the "common" birds can show you amazing things. A pretty exciting find for mid-winter.

28 comments:

Patrick Belardo said...

Sort of like a circus sideshow. Very cool.

MarkN said...

I wonder what the code to use in banding notes would be: M, F, U or something else? Great photos!

John Gregoire said...

Very nice photos! Thanks for alerting us on Birdband. Your cardinal is a "bilateral gynandromorph", the type usually described. In our AFR report for 2008 (NABB) we will be reporting a gynandromorphic female American Goldfinch that we banded in early fall 2008. That bird had a brood patch developing and female flight/body feathers on both sides. However, she also sported a black, male crown patch.

I don't know what to call this in ornithological terms. The insect world calls such a thing a mosaic gynandromorph. It reflects a chromosome error in a later stage of embryonic development than does the bilateral.

I'm a field ornithologist banding at this station since 1986 and several years in the mid-Atlantic before that. This was the first gynandromorph I have ever encountered of over 100K birds banded. What a thrill.

Owlman said...

I wonder if the other birds pick on him/her?

Beverly said...

Now, that is way interesting! Who knew?

Thanks for sharing!

dAwN said...

Wow..I had no idea birds like that existed.
very interesting..

HellZiggy said...

Oooh, cute! It's like it came from the planet Ariannus. :)
(Yes, Star Trek geek here. It's the planet where the people were all half white & half black.)

~Sharon

birdchick said...

Why is this bird a gynandromorph and not a hermaphrodite? Is it because of bird chromosomes?

John said...

Wow, that's really weird. I've never seen anything like it.

fieldguidetohummingbirds said...

Way cool! If I understand the process correctly, the fertilized ovum would have been male before the sex chromosomes got misapportioned during mitosis, but I wonder: does it sing?

B-Chick, gynandromorpism is more of a superficial diagnosis, while hermaphroditism requires confirmation of the presence of male and female gonads. If this bird's bilateralism is complete, we could expect it to have an ovary on the "female" side and a testis on the "male" side.

behindthebins said...

What an incredible find. I have never seen such a thing. It looks fake.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. More than anything, thanks for sharing. I'm in the greater Boston area and this was posted on my local birding listserv.

George Brouillette said...

I find that so fascinating. I am, however, offended by "owlman's" question if other birds pick on him/her, as if that could justify human hatred and acts of violence against other humans who do not fit the male/female sex roles -- and Patrick's circus sideshow comment. Live and let live is my motto. It's a fact of life -- deal with it.

Alisa Toninato said...

This 's gotta be bullshit ! Right down the center like that ? Seriously,..I thought that pattern of divide happened with a stroke and heart attacks,..related to ventricles and blood systems,..not Boy-on-left, Girl-on-right.

Hmmm, I might be jaded by these times of photoshop advertising--makes me a bigger sceptic more than just enjoying that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a published article, along with pics, of this phenomena. The article starts on page 15:

http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/ism&CISOPTR=5411&REC=10

Jerry said...

Cardinal you say--looks like some kind of raptor to me judging from the beak...

Erica said...

This is very cool!

A friend of mine just linked me to your blog. I am very happy to have found it. Looking forward to reading through your posts :)

Anonymous said...

My reaction was the same as Jerry's, until I scrolled down. Does the bilateral gynandromorphism mean that the mutation took place at the very first cell division?

--Anne

Heroic Linky said...

George - If you knew birds, you'd know that birds with strange markings are often picked on by other birds. The question was asked out of curiosity and likely concern, not as a justification for human discrimination. How you made that connection in your mind is beyond me. Put the fangs away.

Bill said...

Incredible!

I hope you don't mind my linking this page to my own blog @ http://newjerseyoutdoors.blogspot.com - with credit given of course!

This is too wonderful not to share. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To George Brouillette. Owlman's post seems like a reasonable question to me. Birds that are a bit different in any way are often "picked on" by other birds. It's nature. Methinks you are reading too much into an innocent comment.

Bob said...

To Alysa from Bob Motz: I assure you this is the real thing. Eight people have now seen it from my house, including a university ornithology professor I also have considerable video footage of it. Nature has so much to create wonder in us.

Bob said...

To Alisa from Bob Motz: Eight people have now seen this bird from my house. This includes a University ornithology professor. I have video footage as well. Believe me, this is no photoshp picture. It's quite a rarity in nature. I was totally shocked to see it.

Anonymous said...

Tom M said:
Many thanks for sharing with the world, Tucson AZ

Alex_D said...

Wow, very interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

rupiawan said...

information on the thank you of any posts. I always awaits further information from you

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Anonymous said...

I never knew anything like that could occur.

On another subject, I recently saw a bird I have never seen at my feeder. It's a has a bright blue body, (easter egg bright) and it appears as though the wings and tail feathers are black speckled. It's smaller than a robin.

Does anyone know what type of bird this might be? my email is j0wgnr@yahoo.com I'd love to hear your ideas!