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Transgender bird spotted in New Zealand

Staff at an eco-sanctuary near Wellington identify a bellbird with female DNA and male behavior.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

14th October 2012 00:17

Alessia Valenza

Bellbirds are sparrow-sized and named after their melodic song. The trans bird makes male and female mating calls but his female call is louder and more frequent than is usual.

Although a DNA test showed the bird as female, his feeding habits are more male as he moves in a defensive way to protect attractive sources of nectar. He has the dark feathers of a male, but also a white stripe of the female on one cheek.

Ben Bell, an ornithologist from Wellington’s Victoria University, said the bird’s transgender characteristics were ‘unusual’ and ‘could be due to a hormonal imbalance’.

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