The Swallows of Capistrano

I Love Cliff Swallows!

What started as curiosity about why the swallows didn’t return to Mission San Juan Capistrano turned into a deep appreciation of these incredible little beings.   Some of my most joyful moments are spent just watching the swallows live their lives as exceptional parents and community members. 

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Lots of Information About Cliff Swallows!

I created a handout that has lots of information about cliff swallows.  There’s also a link to a printable download.  (Once a teacher, always a teacher ...)

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I cut these montages from footage from “The Swallows of Capistrano” video, and added some additional shots as well.  (Some with the super long lens I used in the Catalina Island Fox shoot.)

The music tracks are incredible and done by the group Sajama, headed by Ruben Ortiz. 


Welcome Home • 3 minutes

The swallows have just returned from their annual migration to South America and are hanging out over the grasslands and creek beds.  (Anywhere there are flying insects to eat!)

At dusk, they perform their famous “swarming” ritual.  They gather in a cloud high in the sky and gradually fly lower and lower until they fly into their waiting nests for the evening.  That’s the ritual that everyone came to see and celebrate at Mission San Juan Capistrano on St. Joseph’s Day. 

I’m sure the swallows are glad to be home!

Raising a Family • 3 minutes

It’s not easy being a cliff swallow parent!

This clip shows the swallows courting, building their mud nests (which can take up to two weeks), and caring for the next generation.  You’ll even see parents teaching flying lessons as the chicks leave the safety of their nests.

The Season • 3 minutes

This montage spans the season,

from the first arrivals to the last to leave the colony.

“The Swallows of Capistrano” DVD

I have a few copies of “The Swallows of Capistrano” in DVD format that includes all three montages and the 28 minute documentary that tells the story of Mission San Juan Capistrano and arguably the most famous birds in the world.

The documentary features the Return of the Swallows celebration at the Mission and covers the swallow colony from their arrival in March to their departure from the colony site in August.


Copies are available for $20.00 each, including shipping.

email me if you’re interested.


call me at (909) 336-7200