This Non-Binary Cardinal Is Flipping Gender the Bird

They've got a boyfriend, too!

One wild cardinal in Pennsylvania might just be the new face (beak?) of the gender non-conforming community.

The bird in question, a unique cardinal with a bilateral split of male and female plumage, was first spotted by bird lovers in Erie, Pennsylvania, last week. Because male and female cardinals have such distinctly separate coloring—males are typically a vibrant red; females are a more muted gray or beige—this little guy (pictured in the tweet below) caught their eye right away.

Turns out, this bird's stark, split-down-the-middle appearance is actually a perfect representation of their gender: The cardinal is gynandromorphic, or in layman's terms, biologically half male, half female.

"Never did we ever think we would see something like this in all the years we've been feeding [birds],” Shirley Caldwell, an avid birdwatcher of more than 25 years who spotted the cardinal, told National Geographic.

Some creatures, including lobsters, moths, and spiders, are frequently gynandromorphs, but the condition is rarer among birds.

Most critters who exhibit this trait are infertile; however, experts told NatGeo that because this bird's female plumage is on the left side of their body, they might be able to reproduce. (In female cardinals, only the left ovary is functional.)

Caldwell also noted that this little birdie appears to have attracted a bright red male cardinal as a potential suitor.

"We’re happy it’s not lonely," she said, and we couldn't agree more. Now, please discuss once and for all: Is this bird a non-binary icon?

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