ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - There's a frenzy erupting in the birding world, and the Rufous-necked wood-rail is to blame.
Never before has there been a recorded sighting of a Rufous-necked wood-rail in the United States, but for the last two weeks one of the birds has been right at home among the cattails at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Typically, the species is found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America.
The sighting has prompted emergency plane reservations and impromptu road trips reminiscent of The Big Year, the comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson that brought to life the annual competition among birders to identify the most species of birds in North America in a year's time. The difference here is that no one expected they would get to check the wood-rail off their list.