Bird enthusiasts flock to New Mexico to see rare species


(CBS News) For American birdwatchers, it's the event of a lifetime. Early this month at a scenic wetland in dry central New Mexico, an extremely rare creature called the rufous-necked wood-rail appeared for the first time on record in the United States.

A hundred miles south of Albuquerque, the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for thousands of species of birds.

Birdwatchers answer the call of the wild

While shooting video earlier this month, 19-year-old Matt Daw noticed an unusual bird come into the frame, the odds of which could be one in a million.

"The wood-rail just walked right past, and I was so surprised I stopped recording and put up binoculars and got on them," he said.

The rufous-necked wood-rail had never been seen before in the U.S. It's extremely rare even to see the wood-rail in its natural habitat in Central and South America.

Daw's one sighting set off frenzy within the birdwatching community, with birders flocking from around the country to catch a glimpse. For bird aficionados, it was like hitting the jackpot.

"I think initially it was a feeling of disbelief and then when it was cleared it was correctly identified, I was blown away," Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday." "It's so rare, so unexpected, and it's so beautiful. It's a really gorgeous bird."

He explained that the next steps for the birdwatchers would be to try to explain how the South American bird made it all the way up to New Mexico. They will observe the condition of its feathers, if it had a band on its leg, or if it looked like it could have been kept in a cage.

Gordon said they have a lot more research to do, but for now, they are excited to see such a beautiful and rare bird.

For Jeffrey Gordon's full interview, watch the video in the player above.