July 23, 2013

Tropical bird goes astray, sparks U.S. birding frenzy

Never before has there been a recorded sighting of a Rufous-necked wood-rail in the United States.

By Susan Montoya Bryan / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this undated image, a Rufous-necked wood-rail walks along the edge of a marsh at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, N.M. The bird is typically found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America.

AP / American Birding Association, Jeffrey Gordon

"There seems to be a great deal of delight in seeing something and then trying to figure out what it is you've discovered," Komito said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "In a sense, when you're going for rare birds it's almost like panning for gold and the bird represents a nugget."

Refuge officials also recalled the story of an Iowa man who flew into Denver, rented a car and drove down to see the wood-rail only to be disappointed. After driving back to Denver and turning in his rental, he got a phone call that the bird had reappeared. It was enough for him to change his flight, get another rental and drive back down.

"Serious, serious lengths," Mize said when asked about the efforts by some to see the bird.

"It's a great thing for birders to be able to check this bird off of their life list where otherwise they would have had to travel to Belize or Costa Rica or South America to see it," he said.

The big question though is why New Mexico.

Some theorize that it could be climate change, others point simply to the bird's wings.

"Birds, with their power of flight, do this kind of thing regularly and it's just one of the really cool delightful things about birding," Gordon said. "It's just like this super cool Christmas present when something like this turns up."

 

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