The Azores are an obligatory stop for the many migrating birds on their transatlantic flights due to its’ geographical location halfway between America and Europe. The lakes, coastlines and islets are common resting and nesting areas for many of the migratory species.
An endemic species, in the true sense of the word, is not found in the Azores. Many species have adopted the region as a home and evolved into sub-species with differences in colour, size and form. The evolution is largely due to the geographical location and isolation of the islands.
The renowned watchdog “Cão de fila” is a good shepherd’s dog and is a familiar part of the landscape in São Miguel. After the discovery of the Azores in the early 1400’s, cattle was shipped to graze there along the coast. Since herds of cattle roamed freely up until the islands were populated in 1439 they became less domesticated. The need for dogs to round up the herds became necessary, henceforth the “cão de fila”. The “cão de fila” is a strong, tough dog, with a sharp temperament, capable of spending the entire year guarding the cattle. They are loyal and extremely intelligent. They always bite low on the hind legs in order to avoid harming the udders. They grow to an average height of 50-60cm for males and 48-58cm for females and average na weight of 25-35kgs for males and 25-30kgs for females. Their heads are square, their jaws are extremely strong and their legs are muscular. They have very short hair. The “cão de fila” became a registered breed approved by a general assembly of the Portuguese Canine Club on the 19th of December in 1984.
Within the bird family the “Priôlo” (Pyrrhula pyrrhula murina) once considered extinct was rediscovered in its present habitat located in the area of “Serra da Tronqueira”, “Pico da Vara”, São Miguel. These provide some examples of recognized subspecies within the region.
Other species of birds found in the region include the “Milhafre” Eagle (Buteo buteo), “Cagarro” (Calonectris diomedea), Canary-like Finch (Serinus canarius), Crow (Turdus merula), Cliff Pigeon and Picazuro Pigeon (Columba livia and C.palumbus), Common Tern (Sterna hirundo and S.dougallii) and the Gull (Larus argentatus).
The Ferret (Mustela nivalis), Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) and the Wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are also found on the islands. The rabbit is the most abundant and most important of the species for the sport of hunting.
In some lakes and rivers in São Miguel and Flores some species of fish are found that are of interest to the sport fisherman, namely, the Common trout and Rainbow trout (Salmo truta and Oncorhynchus mykiss), the old world pike (Esox lucius), the carp (Cyprinus carpio), the yellow perch (perca fluviatilis), the “Sandre” (Stizostedion lucioperca), and the Red gurnard (Rutilus rutilus).