About Swallows Depart from San Juan Capistrano Day
The famous cliff swallows of San Juan Capistrano, California are said to migrate south for the winter on October 23rd, the death date of St. John of Capistrano.
They travel to their winter vacation spot 6,000 miles south in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina.
The swallows return every March 19th, the feast day of St. Joseph, to the ringing bells of the old church and a crowd of visitors from all over the world who are in town awaiting their arrival and celebrating with a huge fiesta as well as a parade.
On a mission
According to infoplease, legend has it that the swallows took refuge in the Mission San Juan Capistrano from an irate innkeeper who destroyed their muddy nests. The swallows return to the old ruined church each spring knowing they will be protected within the mission's walls. In fact, the city has taken their safety seriously passing an ordinance against destroying their nests.
So-called "scout swallows" precede the main flock each year by a few days but the majority of the small birds usually arrives on the 19th and begins rebuilding the mud nests that cling to the ruins of the old stone church and throughout the Capistrano Valley.