In a remarkable display of nature’s diversity, Gainesville, Florida, recently became the stage for an extraordinary sighting: a rare yellow cardinal. This bird, typically known for its striking red plumage, especially in males, presented a stunning yellow hue, making it a one-in-a-million occurrence.
Captured by Karen Devens of Nature Queen Photography, this unique cardinal was photographed in a forested area near the University of Florida campus. The South Florida Wildlands Association, sharing the images on Facebook, attributed this rare coloration to a genetic abnormality.
In the eastern United States, where over 15 million red cardinals are a common sight, this yellow cardinal stands out as an exceptional rarity. Local bird experts, including Andy Kratter from the Florida Museum of Natural History, expressed their astonishment at this rare find. Mark Hostetler, a professor at the University of Florida, explained that the yellow plumage is due to the absence of an enzyme that typically transforms the carotenoid pigments in the birds’ diet into a red hue.
This sighting, while extremely rare, is not the first of its kind. A yellow cardinal named “Sunny” was also spotted in Florida in 2019, further highlighting the intriguing genetic diversity within the species.