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San Juan Capistrano sparrows called to the Mission by recordings

May 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's an annual rite of spring: swallows flocking to the mission in San Juan Capistrano. But these days very few swallows appear to be reading the guidebooks telling them where the mission is located. Now there's a new plan to help the swallows find their way.

San Juan Capistrano businesses are centered around the annual spring migration of swallows to the south Orange County community where the it's a main tourist attraction.

But in recent years, very few swallows have come back to nest at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

As visitors get a guided tour of the mission, they are serenaded by the swallows' mating call.

In years past hundreds of swallows would migrate to the Mission for their spring home. Today, more tourists than swallows show up. Monday there were only a few visible.

So in March a biology professor suggested the Mission do something that would attract the birds back, something they would recognize.

A speaker placed behind a statue mimics the birds' calls. Tourists are hoping this experiment works.

According to the Mission, they've noticed more swallows nesting near the historic landmark. The recorded sounds will resume again next spring with the hope that just as many swallows return as there are tourists waiting to see them.