Letter: Let’s Bring Back the Swallows

By Jim Curwood, San Juan Capistrano

Fifty years ago this spring, my parents, sister and I came to San Juan Capistrano to attend Mass and see the town.

What a wonderful place. After walking around town and the Mission, we stopped to get an ice cream. Leaving the store with my strawberry ice cream, I opened the door, took two steps and a swallow pooped on my cone. I started to cry and threw away my ice cream, but my dad said, “It’s your lucky day. There’s a Chinese proverb that says it’s good luck to get pooped on by a bird.” How often does that happen? In 52 years, two other times!

My point is, San Juan Capistrano is a very special place, and those little birds are our endless economy, like York Minster, the Grand Canyon, etc. You figure, conservatively speaking, at least a billion people worldwide know about our fine town and our beloved swallows coming back to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Even Bugs Bunny.

Our town has grown quite a bit in the 50 years since I first visited in 1964 at 8 years old. To continue this fine tradition for the next 50, and far beyond, I suggest we remove a swallow plug from each tile roof in town for 10 years or so. Then we build 20 or so mud holes, 10-by-10, with the specific mud swallows use to build their nests, surrounded by native plants to attract bugs they love to eat. Put a fancy rope around them and a brass plaque that says, “This is where the swallows get their mud for their nests.”

It would be a great visitor photo opportunity. Volunteers would maintain them. Set a goal of two million visitors by 2016, five million by 2021 and 10 million by 2030. All businesses in town would prosper beyond belief. If you build the hotels, they will come. I guarantee it.

If you travel, you are aware that when you say you are from San Juan Capistrano, people respond, “That’s where those swallows come back to,” or something about those birds. We should act now. It’s just something to think about with the swallows coming back March 19.

From your very proud Grand Marshal for the 56th Swallows Day Parade, March 22. Be there!

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2 Responses to “Letter: Let’s Bring Back the Swallows”

  1. Michael Brang
    March 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    This is a fine idea. With all of the development that has occurred since Jim’s first visit , and with the “Ranch” set on paving-over what’s left, perhaps it is time for San Juan to offer a hand to swallows and their habitat. Wall/structures along Trabuco and San Juan Creek might go a long way in bringing back a few swallows. And who knows, maybe our parade Grand Marshall will get a salute from the sky. And the cost, well we can always hit-up the “Ranch” for that.

  2. Maeve McDonough
    June 18, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Wonderful idea! I live just a block or two north of the mission, and there are lots of swallows nest ing here.. My dream is to make San Juan a bird sanctuary town, with special care given to the swallows. We can do this!

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