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Ask the biologist.

Q: I took this picture of a cardinal that has been frequenting my bird feeder. The peculiar thing is that one side has the coloration of a male, the other side has the coloration of a female! Is this unique?

Dick Arthur

Charlton, Saratoga County

A: We asked DEC biologists about this cardinal. They confirmed with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that it is exhibiting a condition known as bilateral gynandromorphy, whereby it is half male, half female. The phenomenon is rare, though not unique, and has been seen in a number of bird species. It appears that some anomaly of development happened at the two-cell stage, and the embryo developed with different-sexed cells on each half.

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Title Annotation:LETTERS; coloration of cardinal
Author:Arthur, Dick
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Dec 1, 2014
Words:117
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