The birthplace of Orange County is getting ready for its annual St. Joseph’s Day and the Return of the Swallows celebration on March 19 at Mission San Juan Capistrano, it was recently announced.
As the region as grown, there have been fewer sightings of the birds during their annual migration from Argentina each spring in recent years.
But cliff swallows expert Dr. Charles Brown came up with an idea last year that is making a difference, according to a statement released by the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
“Under Brown’s direction, the Mission established a vocalization project that lures the swallows back to the Mission. The project involves speakers playing cliff swallow courtship calls that are placed behind the statue of Father Junipero Serra on the Mission grounds,” the statement said.
“The recording is of courtship songs that males use to attract females,” Dr. Brown said in the statement. “And males would be attracted too because they are very social birds. A systematic program of playing it a few times a day, when the weather is good and during the times they would be foraging, I think there’s a good chance they will come in.
“I think if we keep trying long enough, eventually, some individuals will come by, they’ll see the Mission and they will realize it’s a good place to nest, as they did in the past,” Brown said.
The project proved successful last year with the onset of the program — cliff swallows were spotted feeding overhead at the Mission several times, and a few cliff swallows flew in to investigate the recorded sounds.
The project this year begins on March 1.