A zoologist has recorded a sighting of an extremely rare bird that is half-female and half-male. This is the second such sighting in more than 100 years. The bird sighted was a Green Honeycreeper with a distinct half-green, or female, and half-blue, male, plumage. It was discovered in Columbia in the US state of South Carolina. A short video of the half-female and half-male bird has been shared by the University of Otago.
Zoologist Hamish Spencer, who is a professor at the University of Otago, was holidaying in Columbia when an amateur ornithologist, John Murillo, pointed out a wild Green Honeycreeper. "It had typically male plumage on its right side and typically female plumage on its left, although this pattern had a few feathers out of place especially on the head," read a report published in the Journal of Field Ornithology.
Half-female, half-male bird spotted in Columbia
Zoologist Hamish Spencer on sighting of half-female, half-male bird
"Many birdwatchers could go their whole lives and not see a bilateral gynandromorph in any species of bird. The phenomenon is extremely rare in birds, I know of no examples from New Zealand ever. It is very striking, I was very privileged to see it,” professor Spencer said.
The rare phenomenon is scientifically known as bilateral gynandromorphic. The bird has both male and female features, split perfectly down the middle.
Why it happens
According to professor Spencer, the extremally rare phenomenon arises from an error during female cell division to produce an egg, followed by double-fertilization by two sperm.
The report, published in the Journal of Field Ornithology, noted that the rare bird was not behaving in any way that was unusual for a Green Honeycreeper, and it vocalized on several occasions. It was not differentially harassed by other Green Honeycreepers or other birds either.