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Researchers In Westmoreland County Catch Rare Part-Female, Part-Male Bird

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

RECTOR, Pa. (KDKA) - Researchers in Pennsylvania have caught a rare part-female, part-male bird.

Researchers at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's environmental research center in Rector caught and banded the Rose-breasted Grosbeak gynandromorph last week.

A gynandromorph is genetically half female and half male, and this bird is split by a line that runs roughly down its middle. On the right side, you can see the male pink wing pits, breast spot and black wing feathers. On the left side, you can see the female yellow wing pits and browner wing.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak gynandromorph
(Photo Credit: Annie Lindsay)

The Powdermill Nature Reserve's avian research center has recorded fewer than 10 bilateral gynandromorphs in more than six decades of bird banding.

"The entire banding team was very excited to see such a rarity up close, and are riding the high of this once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Annie Lindsay, bird banding program manager at Powdermill in a press release.

"One of them described it as 'seeing a unicorn' and another described the adrenaline rush of seeing something so remarkable. They all are incredibly grateful to be part of such a noteworthy and interesting banding record. Bilateral gynandromorphism, while very uncommon, is normal and provides an excellent example of a fascinating genetic process that few people ever encounter."

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