Yellow Cardinal Spotted on University of Florida Campus – KIRO 7 News Seattle
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alligators are normally the animal of choice at the University of Florida. But this month, a yellow cardinal rose to the top of the university’s popularity list.
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The rare bird, a male northern cardinal, was spotted in a wooded area on the Gainesville campus, the Gainesville Sun reported. He was first seen on February 28.
“I don’t know how many cardinals I saw, maybe thousands,” Andy Kratter, head of ornithology collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told the newspaper. “This is the first yellow cardinal I’ve seen.”
The cardinal’s bright yellow feathers are the result of a genetic mutation, according to scientists, who say it is the same species as the well-known bright red cardinal. The mutation changes color.
A yellow cardinal was first spotted in Alabaster, Alabama in late January 2018 in Charlie Stephenson’s backyard.
Red cardinals, a state bird in seven U.S. states, are found in central and eastern North America, according to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.
Experts believe there are only 10 to 15 yellow cardinals in North America, the Sun reported.
“All carotenoids come from the foods birds eat,” Kratter said in a press release from the Florida Museum. “But once in a while, a rare mutation in a million appears in a male cardinal that creates a hiccup in the process that turns carotenoids yellow instead of red.”
The bird can be identified by its yellow body with a black mask around its eyes and beak, the Sun reported.
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