An unusual yellow cardinal has birdwatchers racing to Alabama as images of the unique creature have circulated around the Internet and social media.
The bird was first spotted in Alabaster, Ala., in late January in the backyard of Charlie Stephenson.
Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill told AL.com the cardinal is an adult male in the same species as the common red cardinal but carries a genetic mutation that causes it to have bright yellow feathers instead of the usual brilliant red.
Stephenson said the bird has been a punctual visitor to her backyard feeder: “Every time we’ve looked for him, he’ll show up at least once a day,” she said to AL.com.
Professional photographer Jeremy Black snapped a couple of shots of the bird, which have made the rounds of news sites nationwide.
Red cardinals are found all across central and eastern North America, according to Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab: “A year-round resident, the cardinal is a common visitor to bird feeders in winter, and it has been chosen as state bird in seven U.S. states.”
Non-red cardinals are very rare: “Yellow cardinals are a one-in-a million situation,” Hill said.