The bird kingdom is rich and diverse with beautiful birds of various colours. The colours are not random. Each species, each gender has colours adapted to best suit their survival and procreation. Generally, some male birds are ‘better coloured’ in order to attract females for mating. The females, in such species, have significantly muted colours than their male counterparts. In a way, it is the men in bird kingdom who dress well and have makeup.
However, in a rare instance, an odd bird has been discovered with both female and male plumage colours. The bird is from a nature reserve in Pennsylvania and is a Rose-breasted grosbeak. It derives its name derives from the male of the species who have ruby-red triangular marking on a white chest and dark black wings with pink wing pits. The females are much less showy, with no patches on its beige body, brown wings and yellow wing pits.
The little miracle found at Powdermill Nature Reserve has both. Its body looks like someone cut the images of male and female birds in half and then pasted them together. The right side of its body is pink- male, whereas the left side is yellowish-brown i.e. female.
The condition, called bilateral gynandromorphism, means the bird is both male and female, with one ovary and one testis. This bird is what one refers to as a gynandromorph.
Gynandromorph animal with both male and female have external characteristics are like a male and female chimaera. This phenomenon occur when an egg has two nuclei, instead of the usual one, and it gets fertilized by two sperms.
After this, the nuclei could develop two chromosomes on each side; one side male while the other female. The resultant chick would have one half of its body with male characteristics- testis (single) and male colours. The other side could contain an ovary and female colours on the outside.
Since the centre was opened, less than ten such birds have been discovered in the last 64 years. According to Dailymail, one of the reserve staff referred to it as “seeing a unicorn.”
Since these birds have left functional ovaries, they could potentially lay eggs. However, it’s survival may depend on whether it makes male mating calls and risk getting attacked by other competitor males in the future.