Question: What special event which occurs on, or around St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th), have the people of San Juan Mission in Capistrano, California been celebrating for centuries?
Answer: The return of the cliff swallows who nest there during the summer. And on or around the feast day of San Juan of Capistrano (October 23rd), they leave again, headed for their winter grounds in Goya, Argentina.
The kids in the photo above happen to be feeding pigeons, but there were definitely swallows around, too, when I first visited in 1976, and again when I took some of the next generation there in 1987. Due to town expansion and a dwindling food supply, the number of swallows dropped for a while, but they’re back in force now!