Now that we know a yellow cardinal exists, it’s safe to say our minds are completely blown — in a good way. We get excited enough when we spot a beautiful red cardinal somewhere in our backyards; we’re pretty sure we’d be too stunned to move if we ever spied a yellow one.
But that’s exactly what happened to Charlie Stephenson, a woman who lives in Alabaster, Alabama, on more than one occasion. Much to her surprise, this yellow cardinal has become quite a “punctual” visitor to her bird feeder in recent weeks.
“The cardinals in my backyard typically come in the morning and again in the evening, and I can only bird-watch on weekends until the time changes, but on weekends, I’ll sit there and watch for him,” she said in an interview with AL.com. “Every time we’ve looked for him, he’ll show up at least once a day.”
Luckily, talented photographer Jeremy Black of Jeremy Black Photography got the opportunity to visit Alabaster for himself and capture some breathtaking snapshots of the bird. Don’t you wish this feathery fellow was perching on your bird feeder now?
So what caused this jaw-dropping, unusual color? As it turns out, this yellow cardinal carries a genetic mutation that causes its sunny feathers, rather than the typical cherry shade, according to biology professor Geoffrey E. Hill, PhD. That said, it’s still part of the same cardinal species. Although red cardinals are a relatively common — and much beloved — sight in many states, yellow cardinals are super-rare.
“I’ve been birdwatching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I’ve never seen a yellow bird in the wild,” Dr. Hill said. “I would estimate that in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations somewhere in the US 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.”
What a sight for sore eyes!
h/t USA Today