The Swallows of San Juan Capistrano: Background information when reading The Year the Swallows Came Early

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice X
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2011, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Joanne Collings

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Swallows of San Juan Capistrano

Print Review

All my life, the swallows returning every March 19th to San Juan Capistrano, California, has been a symbol of the strength of nature and of how some things never change. Except they do and, what's more, maybe it never happened anyway, or, even worse, we may be responsible when things do change.

For over a century, St. Joseph's Day annually saw the return of the swallows to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, where they would rebuild their nests in the ornate structures. They were preceded each year by the slightly earlier return of the "scout swallows." There is a local ordinance against destroying swallow nests, which are made from mud.

Where the swallows returned from was long a mystery; now it is known that they journeyed 15,000 miles from Goya, Corrientes, Argentina. They took thirty days to make the trip, flying from dawn to sunset, and did not eat or drink during that time.

But, according to a Los Angeles Times story, the swallows did not return in 2009; in fact, they have not come back for some years. The mission bells still ring and the Festival of the Swallows is still held, but there are no honored guests.

There are doubters who say that the birds never did arrive in such numbers or come back every year, claiming it was just a case of successful hype. Still, the people of San Juan Capistrano have tried to get their swallows back; yet nothing, including luring them with ceramic nests (which were deemed as "not historically accurate" and removed) has worked.

Some say the nests were knocked down when the mission was undergoing preservation work. The building of shopping centers and homes where previously there were no man-made structures is also a likely cause for the failure of the swallows to return and for a "general reduction in all bird numbers" in Southern California.

More about the SJC Swallows

Article by Joanne Collings

This article was originally published in May 2009, and has been updated for the June 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Wolf Season
    by Helen Benedict
    Rin Drummond's nicknames include "Pit Bull" and "Dragon." She's a tough-as-nails Iraq War ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    by Walter Isaacson
    The name Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognized in all of Western history, and his ...
  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

A story that is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, suspenseful and poignant.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Chalk Man
    by C. J. Tudor

    Relentlessly compelling psychological suspense. The must-read thriller debut of 2018.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Mothers of Sparta

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir

A dazzling literary memoir with shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott and Jenny Lawson.

Enter

Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.