Half Male Half Female Songbird Discovered in Pennsylvania Nature Reserve


A rare type of bird was found in the September of 2020 in Pennsylvania about 55 miles away from Pittsburgh. The bird turns out to be half male and half female, the species called a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.


According to Forbes.com, “It was late in the afternoon on the 24th of September so the bird banding team was almost finished for the day when something truly remarkable occurred: upon untangling a struggling bird from their nets, they found a songbird that looked as though it was composed of the lengthwise halves of two birds, one male and one female, that had been glued together into one individual.”


 A half male and half female bird is referred to as a “gynandromorph”. The word gynandromorph comes from the Greek work “gyne” for female, “andro” for male, and “morph” for variety. As stated in CNN.com, “The bird was identified as a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Male and female Grosbeaks are distinguished by their color: males have pink “wing pits”, while females are yellow-brown.” Scientists believed that the bird discovered is at least one year old.


During six decades of bird banding among which about 800,000 birds were found, under ten gynandromorph birds have been discovered by the Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center. As specified by Annie Lindsay, the Bird Banding Program Manager and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toledo, in TheSouthern.com, “There probably aren’t any advantages to it. It will definitely impact its ability to mate. We don’t know if that female side has a functional ovary. If it does, and it is able to attract a male mate, it could reproduce.” 


In January of 2021, a Pennsylvania man snapped a photo of a gynandromorph cardinal in Waterford. “I have been birding for 48 years and yesterday I had a once-in-a-lifetime, one-in-a-million bird encounter,” Hill noted in Pennlive.com. Both the songbird and the cardinal were spotted in Pennsylvania, but their locations were approximately 160 miles apart.


As Lindsay puts it, “Both the Cardinal and Songbird are once in a lifetime experiences”. Currently, the songbird can still be seen at the Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania.