One in a million sightings actually happen quite regularly in the backyard feeder of one Harriman family!
HARRIMAN, Tennessee. They are hard to miss – brightly colored, with a small mohawk, a small black mask and a thick red beak. The male northern cardinal is one of the most colorful and photogenic birds in the United States.
When you ask people to name a cardinal, the first thing they will tell you is the color: red. That’s why one woman had to think when she saw a bird the size and shape of a cardinal… which turned out to be yellow.
“He’s like one of those markers, bright yellow,” said Katherine Reddick. She first spotted the rare bird in early December at a backyard feeder in Harriman, Tennessee. She quickly took a grainy shot with her cell phone to capture the spectacle.
“I took a picture for work the next day and showed everyone, you won’t believe what I just saw and no one understood how excited I was,” Reddick said. She says the cardinal is back and she was able to get the best shot with her DSLR. She shared it online in a birding group on Facebook, and it quickly became popular.
At last check, Reddick’s photo got over 15,000 likes and nearly 2,000 shares.
“Many people have reached out via messages with questions like “Where is he? Can we visit him?” And I’m like… it’s a neighborhood and it doesn’t follow a pattern, so you might not even see it. It’s so crazy that people want to hunt it down just to see it.”
The reason her cardinal yellow, nicknamed Woodstock by online fans, is so popular is because of the rarity of the coloration itself. Experts estimate that there are about a dozen of these birds in North America. The coloration is likely due to a genetic mutation that turns the pigments from the bird’s diet not red, but instead yellow, resulting in a bright yellow coloration.
Reddick says she has seen Woodstock a few more times since her photos and hopes he stays with all his fans.
“This little bird is so famous! He has the following,” she said.