Most animals are either male or female. But in some rare instances, animals can be half male and half female. That was the case with one Rose-breasted Grosbeak discovered in Pennsylvania.
The half-male, half-female bird, known as a gynandromorph, was discovered by the Powdermill Nature Reserve. While male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have pink and black feathers, females are more yellow and brown in color. And according to Science News, Annie Lindsay, a program manager for Powdermill Nature Reserve, recognized the gynandromorph by the distinctive colors of not one gender, but two!
In this particular case, the split of male and female was right down the middle of the bird, making it an even rarer find.
According to Science News, Lindsay was working with her team to ID birds on September 24th, 2020. One of her colleagues spotted the unique-looking bird and called her over to examine it. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the bird was a bilateral gynandromorph – a potentially once-in-a-lifetime discovery!
She shared her excitement of the find with Science News, saying, “It was spectacular. This bird is in its nonbreeding [plumage], so in the spring when it’s in its breeding plumage, it’s going to be even more starkly male, female.” She further noted that “the line between the male and female side will be even more obvious” in the spring.
Scientists speculate that this bird could potentially breed, though it’s not known for sure. In a press release from the Powdermill Avian Research Center, they noted, “A popular question in scientific circles is whether this bird has the capability to breed. Since usually only the left ovary is functional in birds, and the left side of this bird is the female side, this bird theoretically could produce young if it successfully mates with a male.”
Though easy to mistake, gynandromorphs aren’t to be confused with hermaphrodites. Both have the genitals of both sexes, but there are distinguishable differences. With a gynandromorph, the body is split to have male characteristics on one side and female on the other. A hermaphrodite simply has both sexes.
What do you think of this incredible bird?
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