What happens to a bird like this
The bird was identified as a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Male and female Grosbeaks are distinguished by their color: males have pink “wing pits,” while females are yellow-brown.
The sides of this bird’s body were different colors.
This genetic variation is known as gynandromorphism (“gyne” is Greek for female; “andro” means male, そして “morph” means variety).
Due to its rarity, scientists don’t know much about how gynandromorphism affects the bird’s life.
“There probably aren’t any advantages to it,” Lindsay said. “It will definitely impact its ability to mate. We don’t know if that female side has a functional ovary. If it does, and it is able to attract a male mate, it could reproduce.”
How it was found
Since the discovery wasn’t made during breeding season, the songbird wasn’t displaying any behavioral cues that could help answer some of these questions. The reserve found the bird during normal bird “banding” operations — this is when caught birds are marked with a miniature aluminum leg band with a nine digit identification code before being released again.
What is certain is that the bird was at least a year old, meaning that it was able to survive to adulthood with its condition.
How something like this can happen
Gynandromorphy isn’t uncommon
. それ occurs in species of spiders
, crustaceans and even chickens
It’s the result of a genetic error when an unfertilized egg with two nuclei
. fuses with sperm
, and produces an embryo with both male and female cells
. Here’s a good explainer on how it happens
Lindsay was able to take feather samples of this songbird, which the nature reserve plans to use for a genetic analysis to see what else they can find out about it.
More information can be found about this songbird on the nature reserve’s ウェブサイト