Spirit Bird: ‘One-in-a-million’ yellow cardinal seen in Alabama

Birdwatchers are flocking to Alabama to see an uncommon yellow cardinal after photographs of the species emerged on the Internet and social media.

The bird was initially observed in Charlie Stephenson’s backyard in Alabaster, Alabama, in late January.

The cardinal is an adult male in the same species as the ordinary red cardinal, but it has a genetic mutation that allows it to have bright yellow feathers instead of the customary vivid red, according to Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill.



Stephenson said the bird has been a punctual visitor to her backyard feeder: “Every time we’ve looked for him, he’ll show up at least once a day,” she said to AL.com. Professional photographer Jeremy Black snapped a couple of shots of the bird, which have made the rounds of news sites nationwide.

The bird has been a consistent visitor to Stephenson’s backyard feeder, she told AL.com: “Every time we’ve checked for him, he’ll show up at least once a day.”

Professional photographer Jeremy Black captured a few images of the bird, which have now been shared on news sites across the country.

Red cardinals are found all across central and eastern North America, according to Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab: “A year-round resident, the cardinal is a common visitor to bird feeders in winter, and it has been chosen as state bird in seven U.S. states.”

Non-red cardinals are very rare: “Yellow cardinals are a one-in-a million situation,” Hill said.

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