Yellow Cardinal Sighting!

Normally among North American birds, a male cardinal is red, and a female cardinal is brown.  But what does an albino cardinal look like?  Did you say white?  No, a cardinal short on feather pigment is more likely to be pink or yellow, because the dominant pigment they have is red.

Yellow cardinals are so rare that the first one wasn’t captured until 1989.  Now today the local newspaper reported sightings of two yellow cardinals at a bird feeder in Gravel Switch, KY.  I looked on a map, and Gravel Switch is 45 miles southwest of here, located halfway between Danville and Lebanon.

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Disclaimer:  There is a bird in Argentina and Uruguay called the yellow cardinal, but that’s a finch with a crest.  We’re talking about a mutated North American cardinal here.

Here’s the news story:

Rare yellow cardinals spotted in Boyle

A few days earlier, more pictures of the birds appeared here:

http://www.biology.eku.edu/kos/yellow_NOCA.htm

And here is a technical explanation of how they got to be that color (a PDF file):

http://www.biology.eku.edu/kos/kos_images/NOCA_pigments.pdf

So why am I writing about this?  Well, Kentucky has more than its share of wild birds, and this shows they still have some surprises for us.  Moreover, I have a soft spot for cardinals, since Leive, Lindy and I rescued one in 2006.  Later in the same year I speculated that may be one reason why I am now in Kentucky, because I was living in Florida when the incident happened:

By the Grace of God and a Female Cardinal

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We had a Yellow Cardinal visit our feeder on April 19,2011. What a wonderful sight. I took several pictures of him. Hope he returnes! How lucky we were…

  2. I live in North Carolina I’m not sure if I saw one of these birds or not but it like this one on the page but not as yellow and a RED Cardinal was flying with it.She or he was gethering soft weeds.

  3. my husband saw a yellow cardinal in our back yard and it landed on the deck railing. quite beautiful and suprizing. We didnt realize there was yellow cardinals. we live in southern Ontario

  4. I live in St Paul Minnesota, and I have never seen a yellow cardinal before but it was beautiful only thing is I didn’t get to take a picture of it the day I don’t have my camera on me this happens I was so upset. Well who knows maybe it will return.

  5. I saw two yellow cardinal’s today in Collins ville ill I saw one last.year several times and did not know what it was.will try to get a picture

  6. I live in Mi. my back door has an overhang and i have a shelf unit that i store yard things in the winter. i let the dogs out last night and there was a yellow cardinal. It blew my mind , he is still there. I got a picture of him, and hope to get more. Jan.31,2013 Awsome.

  7. Fifty yellow cardinals spotted in Loves park , IL 3pm, March5 th. 2013 Roosting in a thorny tree eating berries. Before you say no, those werent yellow cardinals. They were close enough to reach out and touch one. No mistaking these. I have lived here my 41 years and never saw one before today.

  8. Andy, if you’re right, yellow cardinals are breeding successfully. I guess in that sense they’re like people; cardinals prefer blondes, too!

  9. Had the pleasure of seeing a “yellow” cardinal today. April 02,2013 was the first time in my husbands 67 years and my 40 years that we ever saw the bird. It was a privilege to had witnessed.

  10. Just saw one in Ile Bizard Que … never heard of this before ! So cool !

  11. We have a fledgling yellow cardinal who has been visiting our feeder for about a week with its papa cardinal. It still prefers to eat from the ground or papas mouth! I hope it stays for a while so we can see if it will be a boy or girl. Atlantic beach, FL

  12. Seen a female, I believe, the morning of September 15th in Shreveport, LA. She had been around since the end of August but is quick to fly away when I try to get outside with a good camera. Saw her again this morning as I was holding my 3 month old. Had to get what I could on the phone. She is about the same color as the yellow finch feeder. Have a look:

    http://t.co/kXSpaXuE6W

    http://t.co/1wOOk6E2Ci

    http://t.co/MkMNpFdkUG

  13. I saw a male yellow Cardinal this morning! I thought I was seeing things. Canton, Oh.


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