An Alabama woman had the experience of a lifetime when she spotted a rare yellow cardinal in her backyard. Karem Maldonado, who loves to garden and bird-watch, has nine birdfeeders in her yard, and she frequently sits and enjoys the wildlife that comes to enjoy her beautiful garden.
But, she had a breathtaking experience recently when she noticed a very unusual sight indeed: A yellow cardinal in her garden.
Maldonado was able to snap a few shots, and as the bird continued to return to her garden, she nicknamed him “Mr. Sunshine.” It was not long before her pretty pictures of this gorgeous creature went viral.
“I finally got a picture of a yellow Cardinal in my own backyard, I am so blessed to have seen this rare bird,” she wrote on her Facebook page:
Northern cardinals are one of America’s most common birds, which explains why it is the state bird in seven states. Male Northern cardinals are a brilliant red hue, while female cardinals are a combination of warm browns and muted reds. However, yellow Northern cardinals are extremely unusual, and most of us will live our entire lives without ever seeing one.
Auburn University ornithologist Geoffrey Hill explains that a yellow cardinal is the result of DNA mutations. “Certain mutations have a dramatic effect on what the organism will look like,” Hill told WKRG5 News. “This shows that nature is not static. It is a work in progress and is changing.”
Maldonado’s photos show this yellow cardinal definitely is not static — it’s buzzing around her yard quite a bit, as she showed in this Facebook post:
Just last year, another yellow cardinal was spotted in Alabama, and there was also a yellow cardinal sighting in Georgia. It seems the South might have a new trend on its hands, although experts still stress that these birds truly are, as the Facebook post of the Georgia bird says, one in a million:
“I’ve been bird-watching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I’ve never seen a yellow bird in the wild,” Hill says. “I would estimate that in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations somewhere in the U.S. or Canada. There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one-in-a-million mutation.”