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'One in a million'

yellow northern cardinal


On January 28, 2018 Alabaster resident Charlie Stephenson shared an eye catching portrait on Facebook featuring a Northern Cardinal that displayed Yellow plumage. Stephenson, an active bird enthusiast was shocked when she originally saw what had landed in her backyard.  


Soon after her discovery, Stephenson reached out to Auburn University biology professor: Geoffrey Hill, who confirmed this bird was in fact a male Northern Cardinal. However, it displayed a rare genetic mutation that knocks out the pathway for production of red pigments we typically see in cardinals. Hill explained in an interview with, "I've been birdwatching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I've never seen a yellow bird in the wild." Hill mentions, "I would estimate that in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations somewhere in the United States or Canada."


According to Hill, "There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation." 

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