I know this seems like a weird thing to post about, but it’s something I have slowly been making peace with over the past few months since learning that hummingbirds are only in the Americas. There is plenty of wildlife in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula overall, but there are a few favorite neighborhood regulars from here that we just won’t get to see anymore.
Hummingbirds (beija-flor in 🇵🇹) are not uncommon on the west coast of the United States, but the ones up north will generally migrate for the winter. Ours here in San Diego for the most part do not, since the weather is usually pretty moderate, and one of the wonderful things I found when we moved here is that my specific area of San Diego has a buttload of hummingbirds.
I had feeders on the patio, and would often work all day outside with them buzzing my head or getting into very loud arguments, as they are often aggressive and territorial with each other. There is a nest in the tree next to our patio, and watching them be cared for and watching them grow was a real joy. I absolutely love them and it’s been surprisingly hard to adapt to the idea that I won’t see them anymore.
While I do realize raccoons (guaxinim in 🇵🇹) are usually considered a nuisance animal, I used to volunteer in wildlife rehab and have a particular fondness for these crafty little bastards. They *do* exist in Portugal, but there haven’t been many sightings, as they are an invasive species there.
Side note, this is a very cool piece of street art in Belem, Portugal, called “Big Raccoon” which is (appropriately) made from garbage, and it’s really incredible.
With the way trash is handled in Lisbon (communal, not secured), I can definitely see why an army of our local trash pandas could disrupt things a lot, but I’ll still miss seeing them.
Yeah, I know what you’re probably thinking. Skunks??? Again, having worked wildlife rehab, you end up with an unexpected love for these stinky jerks. We have a nest very close to our condo, and my dog has been “skunked” in the past, but I still like them. I have definitely run up to one last at night when I wasn’t wearing my glasses: “Oh, heeeeey cute kitty! Can I pet – OH NO!” and run the opposite direction. But as long as you don’t surprise them, they’re actually pretty cool, and I’ll miss them.
Portugal does have Iberian Wolves, although not many of them (they are endangered), but coyotes (coiotes in 🇵🇹) are pretty common around here. Less so in the suburbs, but once you get out into east county or away from the cities and minivan mafia, you can hear their calls echo through the canyons at night and it’s pretty incredible.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I worked with big cats. Tigers, lions, leopards, (no bears), but the occasional baby coyote would get dropped off and we’d have to transport them to a facility that could help them.
This poor little guy was so scared, and ended up puking and pooping all over his crate on the way to the wildlife rescue facility, but he got there safely, even if I smelled awful for it.
Again, I know what you’re thinking. Mountain lions?? While it’s certainly not common to run into them in suburban San Diego, if you go off the beaten path, go out for hikes, etc, they’re something you need to keep an eye out for.
There’s something you simply must respect about a 150lb cat (that can grow to be 8 feet long) and the murder-mittens that come with it.
Seeing one in more suburban or urban San Diego is extremely rare, but seeing one on a hike is an unusual, wonderful, ass-puckering treat.
We do have the Iberian Lynx in Portugal (and Spain), but they’re the rarest cat in the world, so the odds of seeing one is pretty low, with the last numbers I saw being about 109 in all of Portugal. They’ve been doing a lot of great conservation work to bring them back after decades of poaching, etc, but there’s still a long way to go.
These are all animals I sort of took for granted while here, but have been slowing getting used to the fact that they simply don’t exist in that part of the world. Instead, we get the Portuguese Man O’ War. 😬