“It’s always awesome to see something you’re not expecting to see.”
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Bat falcon
Credit: ©Juan Carlos Vindas/Getty Images

A small bird of prey native to Mexico and Central America is making headlines after its apparent decision to spend the winter in Texas.

The now-famous bat falcon was spotted for the first time at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo around Thanksgiving.  According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), this is the first recorded time that a bat falcon has ever been seen in the U.S.

Based on the bird's "buff-cinnamon throat and crest bars," officials determined that it was a juvenile, while "the thickness of the tarsus and beak" indicate that it's a male.

Peter Witt told KSAT that he and his wife visited the refuge on the Mexico border specifically to see the bird.

"We could see him fly off from a tree shag perch, skim the lake, grab an insect and return to chow down, then rest a bit and repeat. We watched him for about 20 minutes... a wonderful and unique experience," he told the local news station.

USFWS shared Witt's photos of the bird on its Facebook page this week.

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Joe Barnett, USFWS deputy refuge manager for the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, told Border Report that about 4,000 birders have come to the refuge since the bat falcon was first spotted.

"Somebody even came from Europe, so it's drawing a lot of attention. People coming just to see this bird," Barnett said. "It's always awesome to see something you're not expecting to see."