Saturday, April 25, 2009

the miracle of san juan deane

Roughly one month ago, some friends accompanied my family to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. There was to be a festival in honor of Italian culture (as San Juan Capistrano was actually named Giovanni Capestrano) and also in honor of the famed swallows and their return to the mission.

There are many things I could say, but for now I'll say that I'm not going to share any photos that we actually took. The one thing from the Mission that I'll share here is a picture of the Fr. Serra chapel. I love it for its European style-you could have told me we were in a time machine and living back during the time when California was a part of Nueva EspaƱa.

Despite enjoying the chapel's beauty, the real occasion in my book was to see the return of the swallows.

I think one of my companions was especially in agreement with me that when we realized that the swallows don't really come back to the Mission anymore (not on time, or this year at least), that this was a huge disappointment. It was supposed to be like the "Old Faithful" of bird migration, and yet they didn't show!

It was a few weeks later when, on the way to an early morning teleconference, I was about to leave when I realized that something was going on outside of our apartment. Birds were circling around the roof. Looking up, I realized that the top of the building on the underside was hosting many birds. There was no nest at the time, but what is most important is that the ornithologist in me realized that with those curved wings, these were swallows!

I called my fellow doubter and told him that swallows appeared to be nesting at my home. However, whenever I would look again they weren't around. As time passed, I started to doubt whether the swallows were nesting--maybe they just took a pit stop at our place.

It then dawned on me that dawn (and dusk) were the key. They fly around a lot during that time of day, and my schedule was such that I was too late in the morning or the evening for their special dance. The other thing that the passage of time has shown was that they were nesting, it's just that their special mud nests take time. In this picture, you can see how on one side the nest is quite substantial, and the other is growing. Further, one can see how much work they got done that day, as the wetter mud is darker and shows a nice little ring of their labor. I love saying hello to these little friends.

My next goal will be to walk around the complex and see how many other buildings have swallow nests. If this is the only one, this may be the miracle of Juan Deane.....

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