Yellow mutant cardinal flies over Alabama
February 23, 2018 10:31 AM   Subscribe

A cardinal with a rare genetic mutation has been spotted in Alabama. Normally cardinals turn yellow pigments into red with an enzyme, but this one is different. Here's video of it eating.
posted by larrybob (23 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Something in my mind just rebels at seeing a yellow cardinal. I mean, it's obviously a cardinal from how it acts, and yet... it's yellow. It's like this bird just flew in from a parallel reality.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:01 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

So, you'e saying it's Eobird Thawne?
posted by briank at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

What does 'leukocytic' mean at the end of the paragraph? Seeing albino, yellow, or 'leukocytic' birds?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:07 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think it's a mis-transcription (or autocorrect?) of "Leucism", which is when an animal has "a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes".

According to Wikipedia this cardinal has Xanthochromism
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:11 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Does anyone else find it amusing that this is taking place in Alabaster and is being studied by someone from Auburn University?
posted by Slinga at 11:19 AM on February 23, 2018 [12 favorites]

Pepsi Yellow
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:25 AM on February 23, 2018

Obligatory: Yellow Bird
posted by jim in austin at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2018

I love him. I just want to say "Who's a pretty bird?" at him.

(No, seriously, he's gorgeous.)

I've always found cardinals to be incredibly striking anyway. There's something so wonderful about seeing a yellow one. I had no idea that was even possible!
posted by darksong at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

for example: Leucistic Robin
posted by DaddyNewt at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pepsi Yellow

Undoubtedly a clever marketing tie-in from Big Bird
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Albanism, leucism, and more abnormal coloration using the Northern Cardinal as an example from the Sibley Guides.

Also striking is bilateral gynandromorphism causing the bird to have its plumage split between male and female sides, like this cardinal.
posted by peeedro at 12:08 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Looks like my printer is low on magenta, or my VGA connector isn't touching all the pins correctly.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:07 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Normally, cardinals turn yellow pigments into red do pretty much everything with an enzyme, because that's how life works.
posted by maryr at 2:37 PM on February 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

...I'm sorry, this is like when commericials brag about containing "proteins and amino acids" and I'm like, YES THAT IS WHAT PROTEINS ARE MADE OUT OF.
posted by maryr at 2:38 PM on February 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I once watched a product demo where the person doing the demo told us that the product did not contain any chemicals. After the demo was over I walked up to the salesperson and pointed out that she had literally just told us that she was trying to sell us a product composed of absolutely nothing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:03 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Well, cardinals could also get the red pigments directly in their diet, or convert yellow pigments into red pigments via interaction with UV light, or steal red pigments from other birds via telekinesis, or whatever.

(On the other hand, I remember seeing a product recently that was so proud of containing 15 DIFFERENT AMINO ACIDS that it made me laugh, so I get where you're coming from, too.)

And if we're on the subject of people making absurd claims about products, I once got unsolicited e-mail from a company that wanted me to help them promote their fertilizer, which was so complete that it contained ALL 92 NATURAL ELEMENTS. When I asked for a list of which elements, specifically, those were, and how much of each was in the fertilizer, they e-mailed me a periodic table.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Hill is on sabbatical in Australia this semester -- he responded to's questions via email -- but said he would love to get some DNA from the yellow cardinal (via feathers) to perform more tests and pinpoint the mutation that changed the bird's color.

How are you on sabbatical when THE ONE WILD MUTATION YOU ARE EVER GOING TO GET appears!?! Hill works on canaries, mostly, and I saw a couple of his grad students' presentations at the last Pan-Am Evo Devo conference. It's super cool stuff. Surely his grad students are on their way to Alabaster as we speak to go grab some rachises from this yellow bird. Oooh they should name it Ramma-jamma. And then they should name the gene Ramma-jamma because CYP2J19 is a stupid name and genes should always be named with oblique pop-cultural references. (See also: tinman (defines the developing heart field), Mothers against decapentaplegic (offspring can't make decapentaplegic), and singles bar (causes single myoblast cells to accumulate in mutants). )
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 3:26 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Sorry, Hill doesn't work mostly on canaries, apparently his lab uses a lot of different stuff. His former grad student, Rebecca Adrian, did the canaries work, and it was her talk that I remember best.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 3:29 PM on February 23, 2018

I read that title so wrong.
posted by rmmcclay at 7:21 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I wish I could see this bird in person. This is so ridiculously cool. There's a (normal red) cardinal couple that hangs out at my feeder, Don Fernando and Dame Ondine, and they make me so happy when they chirp at me and fly in immediately after I fill the feeder (or sit on the chair closest to the house sometimes and stare and chirp accusingly at me until I come out and fill it). This kind of reminds me of the Oreo thread—like the fact that this is just like the cardinals I usually like, only with a special new limited-edition color, is making me really want to see it. Hypersalient cardinal!
posted by limeonaire at 8:14 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Extraordinary, beautiful and photogenic.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:26 AM on February 24, 2018

Oh, it's a bird...
posted by Devonian at 7:28 AM on February 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Made of Star Stuff - I just read about a corn gene in the paternal line that allows induction of gynogenesis (pollen induces embryogenesis but degrades before introducing its DNA, therefore embryo entirely matrilineal DNA). The gene is called NLD - Not Like Dad.
posted by maryr at 2:34 PM on February 26, 2018

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