Because sometimes what you need most is to see a one-in-a-million birb, this vibrant yellow cardinal who was recently sighted in Alabaster, AL.
According to Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill, the cardinal’s yellow coloration is the result of a rare genetic mutation. Ordinarily this male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) would be bright red, but this boy looks like he’s still a bit ripe in the plumage department.
“I’ve been birdwatching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I’ve never seen a yellow bird in the wild,” Hill said. “I would estimate that in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations somewhere in the U.S. or Canada.
“There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation.”
We have Alabaster resident Charlie Stephenson to thank for first spotting this extraordinary bird at her backyard bird feeder, where he continues to show up at least once a day.
“I thought ‘well there’s a bird I’ve never seen before’,” Stephenson said. “Then I realized it was a cardinal, and it was a yellow cardinal.”
Stephenson shared her video footage of the golden birb on social medial where her friend, Jeremy Black, a professional photographer, saw it and asked if her could come over and try to photograph the bird himself. It took five hours of patient waiting before he captured the two photos featured here. But he’s not done yet. Black continues to wait in Stephenson’s yard in hopes of getting a shot of the yellow cardinal with a traditional red one.
Head over to AL.com to learn more about cardinal coloration and what causes stunning mutations like this.