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See 'incredible' photos of bird that is both male and female




Researchers have discovered an extraordinary, vibrantly colored tropical bird with "female" feathers down one side of its body and "male" feathers down the other.

Female green honeycreepers (Chlorophanes spiza) typically have grassy green feathers, while the males are a brilliant blue. However, this individual was green on the left and blue on the right. Amateur birder and lead study author John Murillo first spotted the two-toned honeycreeper at his farm near Villamaría in Colombia in 2021; the bird was last spotted in June 2023 and its current status is unknown.

The bird was a bilateral gynandromorph, meaning it had features characteristic to both sexes and could theoretically reproduce as either. This is only the second record of bilateral gynandromorphy in green honeycreepers and the first in more than 100 years, according to a new study about the bird published in the December issue of the Journal of Field Ornithology.

Study co-author Hamish Spencer, a professor of zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, saw the same bird in January 2023 when he visited Murillo's farm during a birdwatching tour.

"I couldn't really believe it," Spencer told Live Science. "Here was this bird with two halves: one male half and one female half."

Related: Rare bee has a body that's half-male, half-female, and split exactly down the middle

Green honeycreepers' habitat range extends through Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil. Murillo feeds honeycreepers and many other birds at his property, which doubles as an ecotourism Business and fish farm called Reserva Natural Demostrativa Don Miguel. He documented the mixed-sex bird by photographing and filming it at a feeding station.