Rare half-male, half-female cardinal spotted in Pennsylvania

A rare half-male, half-female cardinal was spotted in Erie, Pa., according to National Geographic.

The bird showed up 10 yards from the home of Jeffrey and Shirley Caldwell, who regularly feed birds.

They were able to take a few snapshots of the bird, which had half of its body in the red typical of male cardinals, while the other half was a taupe colour unique to female cardinals, split right down the middle.

The bird is in fact both genders, the magazine reported, due to a phenomenon known as bilateral gynandromorph, which can occur in all species of birds.

Female birds typically have a Z and a W sex chromosome, while males have two Z chromosomes.

Gynandromorphy happens when a female egg is split into two nuclei, one with a Z chromosome and another with a W, which are then double-fertilized with two Z-carrying sperm.

The bird then grows half of its body with ZW chromosomes and the other half with ZZ chromosomes.

This process can happen with insects and crustaceans, in addition to birds.

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