Kentucky Ornithological Society

Yellow Northern Cardinal

Photos by David Gourley
Boyle County, KY
January 2011

According to bird plumage expert Geoff Hill (Auburn University): This cardinal is yellow because of a rare genetic mutation. The mutation is
associated  with fitness costs so it doesn't spread in areas. It arises de nova once in a while.  I've looked at an estimated 50,000 cardinals in my
lifetime and I've never seen a yellow one (except a museum specimen at LSU).

Geoff and two colleagues published a paper based on the yellow Northern Cardinal in the LSU collection. A pdf version of the paper is available at:

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