Swallows of Capistrano leaving the church of their fathers

Man, church attendance is down everywhere. The famous cliff swallows who nest every year at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California have bypassed their traditional home for something a little more modern:

Instead, they found graceful lodging in the eaves at the year-old Vellano Country Club.

The private community boasts a golf course designed by Greg Norman, 200 luxury homes, and a spacious clubhouse with nest-worthy stucco high off the ground. . . .

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The club’s PGA golf pro, Bob Emmons, gave the birds two thumbs up for style.

“What really impresses me is how they color coordinated the nests with the building,” he says with a wry smile.

Skipping church to tend their upscale homes in a golf course community… yup, they’re Catholic alright. More:

Haakenson says the Mission, which was founded in 1776, no longer offers the highest, most protected perches.

“The stone church was the tallest building then, and it looked like a cliff,” she says. “So naturally the swallows migrated there.”

New construction and freeway overpasses now offer swallows some alternatives to the Mission.

Haakenson says the Mission is working with Charles R. Brown, an ornithologist from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, to help create an ecological plan to lure the swallows back.

That totally sounds like a metaphor for something… Clearly we need to expand the focus of our “Why Are They Leaving?” symposium.

[Image: Cindy Yamanaka/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press]



  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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