Introducing the South’s newest avian wonder!

By Meghan Overdeep
May 9, 2019

For photographer Jimmy Tucker, four-and-a-half hours waiting on somebody else’s porch was a small price to pay for a glimpse of a one-in-a-million yellow cardinal.

The birding world’s newest celebrity, a male cardinal named Yellow Saffron by the owner of the Kingston, Tennessee, home whose yard he likes to frequent, is one of just a handful of xanthochromic Northern Cardinals identified in the United States.

Fortunately for us, Yellow Saffron appears fond of his rural Tennessee stomping grounds, and Tucker feels confident he’ll stick around for a bit, and perhaps even mate. He’s promised to keep us updated via his Facebook page.

Yellow cardinals are the same species as the common red cardinal, but these unique individuals carry a genetic mutation that causes what would normally be bright red feathers to be a vibrant yellow instead.

"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,” Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill explained to AL.com last year. “There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very, very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation."

Interestingly, most yellow cardinals seem to be turning up in the South. The first to catch our eye was Mr. Yellow in Alabaster, Alabama, back in February 2018 who later, famously, became a father. Then in November 2018, another gleaming yellow male was spotted in Calhoun, Georgia. The most recent sighting of a yellow cardinal happened just two months ago in Theodore, Alabama.

A new Southern specialty? Keep those eyes peeled, y’all!

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