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Meet Matt Daw, the Guy Who Found the New Mexico Rufous-necked Wood-Rail

Matt Daw at Bosque del Apache on July 7, 2013, a day he won't soon forget! Photo ©Jeffrey A. Gordon

Word has been spreading quickly of a truly remarkable birding event: Matt Daw's discovery of a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico. Whatever the official ruling on this bird's provenance, there can be no doubt that Matt just experienced a red-letter birding day.

I met Matt a couple of years ago at a Colorado Field Ornithologists' convention in Grand Junction, CO. Now, at the age of 19, he's attending college and working this summer studying Willow Flycatchers for the Bureau of Reclamation. Getting to hang out with Matt a bit was a terrific bonus of our hurried trip down to see the wood-rail.

Though Matt's skills and his find are entirely his own, I'd be remiss if I didn't say how proud we all are that Matt honed those skills in part by participating in the ABA's Young Birder programs. It's just wonderful to see him doing good work for conservation and bringing his talents to bear in finding and identifying and sharing news of this amazing bird. 

I asked Matt to tell me a little bit of the story of finding the rail and recording what is already surely North American birding's most famous photobomb



Finally, here's a shot I took yesterday of the rail. What a neat, neat bird. Thanks, Matt!


Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Bosque del Apache, July 8, 2013, digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 85mm + Canon 60D. Photo ©Jeffrey A. Gordon


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Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon is the president of the American Birding Association. There's very little about birds, birding, and birders that he doesn't find fascinating, though he's especially interested in birding culture and the many ways we all communicate our passion for birds, including this Blog.
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