I know, I know – cliff swallows aren’t larks. But, this poetic expression, exaltation of larks, fits the bill. The cliff swallows just left our home (jokingly called “Capistrano South” this time of year) for the fourth year in a row. Although quite messy, we are awestruck at their tenacity and their innate ability to return to our home every year like clockwork. They, too, recognize our home as a haven and work diligently creating mud nests under all the eaves of our home.
And, I literally mean ALL! This year’s final count of the now empty completed nests tops out at 117! Last year, completed nests totaled 64. The previous year, the nest count was 23. The first year, it was 5!
In mid-March, the “scout swallows” arrive. I’m convinced that they have a secret language and as they’re flying around scoping out future sites, they twitter at each other:
“Hey, Flyboy, did you notice that one to the south? It doesn’t have neighbors!”
“Say, Aerial (as in Ariel), have you checked out that brown house? They have an indoor cat!”
“Yo, Featherduster, over there. Check it out! They have a pool!”
Yes, the birds bathe in our pool. We have a small “beach” entrance at one end of our pool and it’s become an ever-ready bird bath for multiple species of birds, except the cliff swallows who don’t bathe in the pool. And, it has become the perfect source of water for mud nests!
Our flock of cliff swallows are here for about five months and then, poof – gone! Vamoose, adios, arrivederci! Where do our cliff swallows go? For that matter, where do they come from? Well, according to articles on the internet, cliff swallows “winter” in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina – 6,000 miles away! That’s one heck of a flight!
Click on the link to an article on cliff swallows written by Charles R. Brown, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Tulsa, and entitled “How Cliff Swallows Choose Where to Live”.
Here’s a close-up of one of the nests. The best I can do with an iPhone for a camera. Maybe next year, I’ll have one of those fancy, dancy cameras with a telephoto lens and take better pictures!
My hat’s off, and in the air, in salute of these amazing, beautiful, graceful birds – an exaltation of larks! Next year’s title: Adoration of Swallows.
Here’s a short video. Enjoy the show!
(other posts about the swallows)
- A Wing and a Prayer
- Operation Swallow Adios
- Sweet Baby James
- The Bests Nests in the West
- The Swallows Return to Capistrano South