In other parts to the United States, there are many ways that people can be made aware that Spring has arrived. There’s the beginning of the baseball season, and for many of the states in the north, there’s the spring thaw when the winter weather finally lets up. In Southern California one of the most significant signs that Spring has arrived is when the swallow’s return.
Although the swallows return involves large areas of the Southwestern United States, perhaps one of the more famous places to which the swallows return to is San Juan Capistrano. It is in San Juan Capistrano, the Mission to be specific that the migration of the swallows has taken on special meaning and become somewhat of a celebration.
Each year on March 19th, the miracle of the “Swallow” is said to occur at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano and over the years thousands of people from around the world have made the trip to witness the spectacle. Swallows migrate 6,000 miles from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano in large groups. The town of San Juan Capistrano welcomes the arrival and there are many celebrations to honor it in a tradition that has been around since the early 1930s.
In more recent times the swallows are returning less and less to the old Mission in San Juan Capistrano. Over the years the locals have tried desperately to lure the birds back but the large arrivals of old are just not materializing any more.
Preservation effort on the Mission which included the removal of countless swallow nests may be partly to blame for the lack of interest from the migrating birds, but there may be other reasons that add to it. Some of the birds are now preferring the eaves of a nearby college, the nooks and crannies of new shopping malls and the spaces under interstate 5.
Even though the swallows may not be returning to the old Mission, they are still finding their way to Southern California for all of us to enjoy.