We’re all migrants in Faial. The first of us arrived in the XVIth century (look for our Flemish blue eyes, that you still can find easily), afterwards, mainly from the Portuguese mainland and elsewhere.
Some of us left, for Brazil, Canada and the US, and later returned, two-way migrants, back to the island we call our own. Some others arrived in the XXth century, still from the Portuguese mainland, but also from a lot of other European countries and of the Americas and decided this was a good place to settle.
A great deal of what this island is relates to all of this comings and goings, and life here is clearly marked by the presence of a large community of “estrangeiros” (foreigners) from very different parts of the world, that chose Faial to live in.
As it is with people, it is with birds. Our position in the middle of the Atlantic makes us a indispensable stop-over for migrant birds in their vital crossing of the ocean. In the right season, they’re not difficult to observe.
The thing is, some of them decided to stay, or at least to come back every year, for reasons not entirely clear to us. One of the most common is the Cory’s shearwater (below), that we refer to as “Cagarro”. You’ll hear, unavoidably, their unique and unmistakable singing, every night, during spring and summer, even in town. It is even likely that you’ll find one ashore, disoriented by artificial lights. In that case, please help.
Another well-known migrant around these parts is the Common tern (above), that we call “Garajau”. They’re easy to spot, during the day, flying and chirping around the Marina, usually in couples. Terns do some of the longest migrations ever recorded for any animal. But a lot of them decided to stay. Why?
Something in these islands has drawn them here, probably some of the same mystery that made me, and so many other people throughout the centuries, choose this island to live in.