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WIU Professor Publishes Research About Unique Cardinal

January 29, 2015

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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois University biological sciences Professor Brian Peer is receiving attention for his research and publication on a bilateral gynandromorph bird found in the wild.

More specifically, the bird has the brownish-gray feathered appearance of a female cardinal on its right side and that of a male cardinal's red feathers on its left side.

The Northern Cardinal was spotted several years ago in Rock Island, IL by Peer and his colleague Robert Motz and was observed between December 2008 and March 2010. The two men documented how the cardinal interacted with other birds on more than 40 occasions during that time period and how the bird responded to calls.

"Our paper represents the most detailed observations of a bilateral gynandromorph bird in the wild," said Peer. " We never observed the bird singing and never saw it paired with another cardinal. It was one of the most unusual and striking birds that I've ever seen."

The research paper surrounding the unique bird, titled "Observations of a Bilateral Gynandromorph Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), was published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology in December and was then featured in Science magazine.

Peer's primary research focus is on the coevolutionary interaction between avian brood parasites and their hosts.

For more information about WIU's Department of Biological Sciences, visit

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