Researchers find rare half-male, half-female bird: 'It was a big surprise'

Half-male, half-female bird
Photo credit Powdermill Nature Reserve
By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

A half-male, half-female bird was found at the Powdermill Nature Reserve - the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research center – right outside of Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

“We caught it on September 24th here, just during our normal bird banding operation, and it was a big surprise,” said Annie Lindsay, Powdermill's Avian Research Center (ARC) Bird Banding Program Manager.

It’s the fifth bilateral gynandromorph found at Powdermill in the last 60 years. The species is a Rose-breasted grosbeak.

Half-male, half-female bird
Photo credit Powdermill Nature Reserve

In a video posted on the Carnegie Museum's Tik Tok account, the pink on the underside and black color on the top of the bird's right wing is a male characteristic, while the yellow on the underside and brown color on top of the bird's left wing is a female chracteristic.

On the bird's breast, there is pink on the left side and no pink on the right side. The left indicates male and the right indicates female.

Powedermill caught a similar bird 15 years ago.

Lindsay and her team were unable to figure out what characteristics the bird favors because it is not mating season.

Half-male, half-female bird
Photo credit Powdermill Nature Reserve

“During breeding season, this bird might sing, it might try to attract female mates. Or, it might behave more like a female, and try to attract male mates; but we weren’t able to observe that because it’s not the right season,” Lindsay adds.

She suspects the bird spent the breeding season farther north and was just passing through during migration.

“It’s probably in the southern United States by now, maybe even thinking about heading to Mexico or Central America,” Lindsay explains.

You can listen to the full interview with Lindsay below to learn more.

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