Male cardinals are red. Female cardinals are tan. The odd bird that’s been roosting outside John and Shirley Caldwell’s kitchen in Erie, Pennsylvania, is an even split of both.
Divided down the middle like a winged black-and-white-cookie, the rare cardinal is plumed in feathers that are scarlet on its right side and taupe on its left. When Shirley Caldwell photographed the bird on a recent winter morning, she knew it was unusually beautiful. She did not realize the bird’s quirks went beyond its unusual plumage, though.
Ornithologists call birds like this one “bilateral gynandromorphs” — meaning half the bird’s body is male and the other half is female.
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