Once in a while, one of these creatures acquires celebrity status locally, popping up in neighborhood chatter and becoming a character in our daily lives. Inspired by my colleague Jill Cowan’s recent article about Los Angeles’s favorite mountain lion, P-22, we asked for your stories about beloved wild animals in your corner of California.
Here’s some of what readers shared, lightly edited:
“Over the past several years, we have shared our restaurant property with a rather precocious but friendly bear. He comes in the spring and disappears around Christmas. Rupert, the name we’ve given the bear, lounges around the back lot area and keeps the grubs and blackberries under control, seldom venturing into our main backyard. Our dog, Rosie, of course, remains on alert. — Terry Eilers, Mount Shasta
“Albert the albino peacock is quite well known in Boulder Creek, where, during the C.Z.U. Lightning Complex fires, locals tried to evacuate him, but he was too big and couldn’t fit into anything. Because the town didn’t burn, he was fine and, as far as I know, is still alive and around today. Some posters and T-shirts were made with his image as a symbol of resilience, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.” — Laura Testa-Reyes, Boulder Creek
“Several years ago, almost every evening, my wife and I hiked up to the summit of a local mountain, Mission Point. Once, on our way down, we noticed a hole in the dirt path. Our headlamps revealed a tarantula inside. Each night for two weeks we visited ‘Tommy’ until he disappeared, without notice. Later, we learned that Tommy was probably a ‘she,’ either guarding her eggs or waiting in her den for a roving male as a mate — and maybe a meal.” — Jim Davis, Northridge
“A hummingbird once flew into my living-room window, and I found him lying stunned on the patio. I picked him up to protect him from the neighbor’s cat, swooping hawks and my chocolate lab. I held him in my closed hands for five minutes to allow him to recover. Then I opened my hands and let him rest until he felt strong enough to fly away. He stayed still for about five more minutes and let me stroke his head and under his beak. Then he flew off, circled around me a couple of times, and then landed on my shoulder and stayed there for two or three minutes before flying off.” — Susan Rogers, Carmel