Extremely rare yellow cardinal, 'Sunny,' spotted in Florida, brings nationwide sightings to 12

Max Chesnes, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Extremely rare yellow cardinal, 'Sunny,' spotted in Florida, brings nationwide sightings to 12

'Sunny' the yellow northern cardinal has taken the world by storm.

Ever since the rare bird was photographed Oct. 12 in the backyard of Port St. Lucie home-school teacher Tracy Workman, images of the cardinal have circulated nationwide, sparking conversation about the cardinal species and birds in general, reports Treasure Coast Newspapers, which are part of the USA TODAY Network. 

Facebook page was even set up to celebrate Sunny and the one-in-a-million sighting. 

While Sunny was a first for Florida, this is not the first time a yellow cardinal with a rare genetic color mutation has been photographed in the United States.

Geoffrey Hill, a professor and curator of birds at Auburn University and an expert on bird coloration, said he has been alerted of the rare mutation several times in the past. 

"But with all the new attention," Hill noted, "The reports seem to be going up." 

As a new understanding of this phenomenon arises, here's a look back at the recent yellow northern cardinal sightings reported and confirmed in the United States: 

More: Extremely rare 'one in a million' yellow cardinal spotted in Port St. Lucie — twice

Sightings across the South

Jeremy Black, a professional Alabama-based photographer, captured images of what he believes was the first ever photographically documented sighting of a yellow northern cardinal in Alabaster, Alabama in February 2018. 

Since these first images were taken, Black has actively operated a Facebook community called The Yellow Cardinal, where he engages with community members and educates the public about the rare genetic mutation found in the bird species. 

"It started as a unique project," Black said. " But now I inform the public and raise awareness about the bird." 

Black added he wants the project to inspire people to "get more involved with nature." He said he spends almost every weekend photographing the yellow northern cardinal he first documented in 2018, as the bird has remained in the area since it was first spotted. 

'One-in-a-million': Yellow cardinal seen in Alabama

On the Facebook page, Black updates the list of confirmed sightings that have popped up recently around the southern United States. 

"We officially have 12 confirmed male Northern Cardinals with yellow plumage throughout the United States!" Black wrote to his audience of about 11,800 people Wednesday. "Each have been confirmed with time stamps, positive ID with the help of photographs, and information from each individual who has made the incredible discovery." 

According to Black's records, here are the current confirmed yellow northern cardinal sightings. Click on the state name for more information about each sighting: 

Alabama: 2

Florida: 1 

Georgia: 3 

Louisiana: 1 

Mississippi: 1 

Pennsylvania: 1 

Tennessee: 3

A yellow cardinal was spotted in Port St. Lucie Saturday morning. Tracy Workman said the bird, who she named Sunny, was seen in the area of Prima Vista Boulevard and Floresta Drive.

Black said Sunny is the first  confirmed yellow northern cardinal sighting in Florida. He proudly spread the news of the finding to his online community of bird enthusiasts, old and new: 

"This Northern Cardinal was spotted this past weekend in Port St. Lucie, Florida by Tracy Workman," he wrote above one of her images. "She has named him Sunny and he is bringing his radiance to the Sunshine State." 

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Bird-watching: Yellow cardinal, rare bird, spotted in Florida