Ryan Sabalow, firstname.lastname@example.org a.m. EDT April 7, 2015
It was Friday morning, and Jeremy Ross needed to head to home to help with the kids.
But Ross, newly initiated into the world of bird watching, couldn't resist a few more minutes looking through his spotting scope.
He'd hoped to spot some of the long-beaked shorebirds that often stop in Indiana during their spring migration to feed in fields along Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge.
He was driving down a bumpy, muddy dirt road near Francisco in Gibson County when he spotted a bird that just didn't look right.
"I got the binoculars out and watched it land," Ross said. "It was real pretty. But with the black and white and orange, I thought 'That's just not normal. I don't know what this is, but it isn't normal.' "
Ross had spotted a black-tailed godwit, a gull-sized shorebird native to Europe and Asia. Ross' find has made the middle- and high-school arts teacher a celebrity of sorts among birdwatchers. After all, they might spend a lifetime tallying birds and never find one so rare.
These types of godwits have been spotted along North American coasts, but this sighting is likely the first so far into the U.S. interior, says John Kendall, chairman of the Indiana Bird Records Committee who also edits the birdwatching publication "Indiana Audubon Quarterly."
The black-tailed godwit is certainly the first spotted in Indiana.