February 10, 2015
MISSION’S SWALLOWS VOCALIZATION PROJECT UNDERWAY FOR LAST TIME
Mission San Juan Capistrano's enterprising Swallows Vocalization Project is now underway for the fourth and final season, an effort to lure the popular birds onto the mission grounds.
The Swallows Vocalization Project incorporates speakers that play swallows courtship calls and songs in an effort to lure the swallows, which migrate from Argentina each March before returning to Argentina in October.
The number of swallows nesting at the mission has diminished over time because of urbanization, which has given the swallows more options to build their mud homes.
The Swallows Vocalization Project idea came from swallows expert Dr. Charles Brown, who was summoned to the mission in 2012 from the University of Tulsa, where he is a professor of biological sciences.
Dr. Brown's idea has worked. Swallows that flew overhead and might not have explored the mission and considered it a place to nest are now descending to the mission grounds, where they can build nests.
"The recording is of courtship songs that males use to attract females. And males would be attracted too because they are very social birds," Dr. Brown said. "It's a matter of attracting them in; we know they are overhead and in the area.”
The project involves a systematic program of playing the courtship calls and songs a few times a day, when the weather is good and during the times the swallows would be foraging.
Dr. Brown has suggested that this be the final year of the Swallows Vocalization Project so that he can incorporate a new phase in attracting the bird. Stayed tuned for Dr. Brown's next idea.
To set up an interview with Dr. Brown, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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