Saturday, March 3, 2018

North American Yellow Cardinal Morphs of Red Northern Cardinals


Summary: North American yellow cardinals look, move and sound like red northern cardinals of another color at a backyard feeder in Alabaster, Alabama, in 2018.


Via Jeremy Black's Twitter tweet Saturday, March 3, 2018, he has achieved a second rare image by photographing Alabaster, Alabama's rare yellow morph Northern Cardinal visitor alongside a traditional North American red cardinal; he is deciding on a venue for sharing his latest yellow morph photo: Jeremy Black @JeremyBlack13 via Twitter tweet Feb. 17, 2018

Arborists, birdwatchers, master gardeners, master naturalists and tree stewards associate northern cardinals with red even though they acknowledge North American yellow cardinals, as alternate color forms unrelated to South America's same-named songbirds.
A yellow morph (color form) of the male northern cardinal became a buzzing topic on social media and the Internet late January through early March 2018. Online communications from a birder and a photographer concerned once or twice daily, morning and/or evening backyard feeder visits by one North American yellow cardinal male. A dark-masked head with a dark-patched throat and a triangular crest and a punctual, year-round dominance at backyard feeders only describes northern cardinals in North America.
The bird looking, moving and sounding like a northern cardinal, except for color, encouraged a birder, a photographer and two experts to expect a yellow morph.

A North American yellow cardinal favored in January and February 2018 Charlie Stephenson's backyard feeder near the new Thompson high school in Alabaster, Shelby County, Alabama.
Stephenson gave as her gut reaction to glimpsing the North American yellow cardinal in January that "I thought, 'Well, there's a bird I've never seen before.'" She hesitated briefly before recognizing the morph since "I'm used to being a birder and you see some leukocytic [sic] ones, you see some albino ones." She indicates that "Then I realized it was a (northern) cardinal, and it was a yellow cardinal" and that "then I learned how rare it is."
Full-time portrait, wedding and wildlife photographer and neighbor Jeremy Black's photos for The Naturalist's Notebook page Feb. 19, 2018, joined Stephenson's earlier, iPhone images on Facebook.

That "A lot of cardinals came by and none of them were yellow" kept Black, at backyard and porch seats, from photo opps for five hours.
The photo opp lasted long enough for some lucky looks at the yellow morph before the North American yellow cardinal left because of a loitering squirrel. It motivated Black's mentioning that "I'm trying to get a unique photograph and that is the yellow cardinal next to a traditional North American red cardinal." David and Tina Gourley noted two yellow northern cardinals in Gravel Switch, Kentucky, Jan. 21, 2011, and Cindy Morgan one March 24, 2014, in Wynne, Arkansas.
Geoffrey Hill, Auburn University biology professor, observes that "in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations" in North America.

Hill presents northern cardinals as preferring yellow-pigmented foods that CYP2J19 enzymes process into red bills and feathers unless prevented by a "one in a million mutation."
Hill quotes co-researched publications from 2003 on red-free carotenoids on the first-reported yellow morph, found in 1989 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and from 2016 on CYP2J19. Purbita Saha of Audubon.com reiterates that xanthochroism genetic mutations replace red pigments with yellow as the result of anti-conversion reactions internally or of different-pigmented food absorptions. Geoff LeBaron, Audubon Christmas Bird Count director, says that photos and postings of frayed crest and feathers suggest sickly yellowing from red-suppressing dietary and environmental stresses.
It takes further research to tell whether dietary deficiencies, environmental stress, genetic mutation or something else turns male northern cardinals into North American yellow cardinal morphs.

photo of yellow morph of Northern Cardinal (left) by Jeremy Black; photo of usually red Northern Cardinal (right) by Diane Wurzer/Audubon Photography Awards: Audubon Society @audubonsociety via Twitter tweet Feb. 22, 2018

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
Via Jeremy Black's Twitter tweet Saturday, March 3, 2018, he has achieved a second rare image by photographing Alabaster, Alabama's rare yellow morph Northern Cardinal visitor alongside a traditional North American red cardinal; he is deciding on a venue for sharing his latest yellow morph photo: Jeremy Black @JeremyBlack13 via Twitter tweet Feb. 17, 2018, @ https://twitter.com/JeremyBlack13/status/965100617839587329
photo of yellow morph of Northern Cardinal (left) by Jeremy Black; photo of usually red Northern Cardinal (right) by Diane Wurzer/Audubon Photography Awards: Audubon Society @audubonsociety via Twitter tweet Feb. 22, 2018, @ https://twitter.com/audubonsociety/status/966827478290485248

For further information:
AL.com. 22 February 2018. "Rare Yellow Cardinal Spotted in Alabama." YouTube.
Available @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHUbIV8qsSs
Audubon Society @audubonsociety. 22 February 2018. "'If you see one cardinal, you've seen them all,'" is certainly not true when it comes to this yellow Northern Cardinal." Twitter.
Available @ https://twitter.com/audubonsociety/status/966827478290485248
Bender, Kelli. 1 March 2018. "Rare Yellow Cardinal Captured on Camera by Alabama Photographer Who Has the Whole World Freaking Out." People.com > Pets > Birds.
Available @ http://people.com/pets/rare-yellow-cardinal-photos/
Brulliard, Karin. 26 February 2018. "A 'One in a Million' Yellow Cardinal Is Dazzling the Internet with Its Sunshiny Feathers." The Washington Post > News > Animalia.
Available @ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/02/26/a-one-in-a-million-yellow-cardinal-is-dazzling-the-internet-with-its-sunshiny-feathers/?utm_term=.f4e847ea560a
Bryner, Jeanna. 1 March 2018. "Birdwatchers Are Flocking to Alabama to See This Bird: Why It's So Special." Live Science > Animals.
Available @ https://www.livescience.com/61897-rare-yellow-cardinal-alabama.html
Cindy Morgan. 24 March 2014. "Cindy Morgan updated her cover photo." Facebook.
Available @ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=746924458672974&set=a.746924475339639.1073741831.100000662805388&
Dale, Jason. 27 February 2018. "Rare  Yellow Cardinal Spotted at Alabama Bird Feeder." SmithsonianMag.com > SmartNews.
Available @ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/rare-yellow-cardinal-spotted-alabama-bird-feeder-180968261/
Edgemon, Erin. 27 May 2016. "Why Are Some Birds Red? An Auburn University Professor Has the Answer." AL.com > News > Real-Time News.
Available @ http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/05/why_are_some_birds_red_auburn.html
Goldman, Jason G. 23 May 2016. "Why Some Birds Have Red Feathers." Audubon.org > News > Science.
Available @ http://www.audubon.org/news/why-some-birds-have-red-feathers
"Geoffrey E. Hill." Auburn.edu > COSAM > COSAM Facult > Biological Sciences > Hill, Geoff E.
Available @ http://www.auburn.edu/cosam/faculty/biology/hill/
Jeremy Black @JeremyBlack13. 3 March 2018. "I’ve finally managed to capture a photograph of the cardinal with yellow pigment alongside a male Northern red cardinal! Due to its rarity this image will not be shared yet. I would love some ideas on what to do with this one of a kind photo!" Twitter.
Available @ https://twitter.com/JeremyBlack13/status/969985677407539200
Jeremy Black @JeremyBlack13. 17 February 2018. "This morning I had the opportunity to photograph this rare cardinal in Alabaster, AL. This yellow cardinal displays a rare mutation that blocks the production of red pigment." Twitter.
Available @ https://twitter.com/JeremyBlack13/status/965100617839587329
Lasker, Alex. 28 February 2018. "'One in a Million' Yellow Cardinal Spotted by Alabama Photographer." AOL.com > News.
Available @ https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/02/28/one-in-a-million-yellow-cardinal-spotted-by-alabama-photographer/23373508/
Lopes, Ricardo J.; James D. Johnson; Matthew B. Toomey; Mafalda S. Ferreira; Pedro M. Araujo; José Melo-Ferreira; Leif Andersson; Geoffrey E. Hill; Joseph C. Corbo; and Miguel Carneiro. 6 June 2016. "Genetic Basis for Red Coloration in Birds." Current Biology, vol. 26, no. 11, pp. 1427-1434. Published Online: May 19, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.076
Available @ http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30401-8
Marriner, Derdriu. 10 May 2015. "Northern Cardinal Faves: Popcorn for Female or Chestnut Seeds for Male." Earth and Space News. Sunday. Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2015/05/northern-cardinal-faves-popcorn-for.html
Marriner, Derdriu. 28 November 2010. "Cone-Beaked, Dark-Crested and Throated South American Yellow Cardinals." Earth and Space News. Sunday.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2010/11/cone-beaked-dark-crested-and-throated.html
McGraw, Kevin J.; Geoffrey E. Hill; and Robert S. Parker. 2003. "Carotenoid Pigments in a Mutant Cardinal: Implications for the Genetic and Enzymatic Control Mechanisms of Carotenoid Metabolism in Birds." The Condor, vol. 1, no. 3 (August 2003), 587-592. https://doi.org/10.1650/7281
Available @ http://www.americanornithologypubs.org/doi/full/10.1650/7281?code=coop-site
The Naturalist's Notebook @Naturalistsnotebook. 19 February 2018. "'Yesterday, Charlie Stephenson provided me with the opportunity to photograph the most captivating cardinal in Alabaster, Alabama,' writes Jeremy Black in sharing with us his shot of an extraordinarily rare Northern cardinal that Charlie had seen and videotaped earlier and agreed to help Jeremy find." Facebook.
Available @ https://www.facebook.com/Naturalistsnotebook/photos/a.101784826527236.3086.101777726527946/1677923615580008/
Pillion, Dennis. 26 February 2018. "'One in a Million' Yellow Cardinal Spotted in Alabama." AL.com > News > Real-Time News.
Available @ http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/one_in_a_million_yellow_cardinal.html
Rice, Doyle. 28 February 2018. "'One-in-a-Million' Yellow Cardinal Seen in Alabama." USA Today > News.
Available @ https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/02/28/one-million-yellow-cardinal-seen-alabama/381541002/
Saha, Purbita. 22 February 2018. "Why Is This Northern Cardinal Yellow?" Audubon.org > News > Birds in the News.
Available @ http://www.audubon.org/news/why-northern-cardinal-yellow
Scott, Will. 9 February 2011. "Rare Yellow Cardinals Spotted in Boyle." Lexington Herald Leader > Living > Home & Garden.
Available @ http://www.kentucky.com/living/home-garden/article44078892.html
"Xanthochroism." Project FeederWatch > Learn > Unusual Birds > Color Variants.
Available @ https://feederwatch.org/learn/unusual-birds/
Zachos, Elaina. 23 February 2018. "'One in a Million': Yellow Cardinal Spotted." National Geographic > Birds > Animals > Year of the Bird.
Available @ https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/birds-animals-cardinals-rare-yellow-spd/
Zhang, Michael. 1 March 2018. "Photographer Spots 'One in a Million' Yellow Cardinal." PetaPixel.
Available @ https://petapixel.com/2018/03/01/photographer-spots-one-million-yellow-cardinal/

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