Picture of a hybrid bird between the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and the Scarlet Tanager.

Never-before-seen colorful bird hybrid surprises scientists

The offspring of a scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak—distantly related birds whose evolutionary paths diverged 10 million years ago—was recently found in Pennsylvania.

A hybrid produced by a mating between a rose-breasted grosbeak and a scarlet tanager.
Photograph by Steve Gosser

A birder named Stephen Gosser recently took a stroll through the woods in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, when he heard what he thought was a scarlet tanager.

These colorful songbirds are famously difficult to spot, so Gosser followed the sound of the bird’s cheerful “chick-burr” call to try to get a good look at it.

When the bird finally came into view, Gosser could tell it wasn’t a scarlet tanager. The bird did not have the brilliant red body of a male tanager nor the delicate yellow plumage of a female. This bird had brown wings, a speckled chest, and a patch of red feathers on its throat not unlike that of a rose-breasted grosbeak.

“I was very confused and

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