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Welcome back to Capistrano L'Italo-Americano THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014 www.italoamericano.com 24 On March 19, hundreds and hundreds of swallows will be back to San Juan Capistrano after a trip of almost 6,000 miles. Yes, very punctually these wonderful birds, on March 19 (Saint Joseph's Day) every year come back punctually to their old nest, the very same nest that they built the year before or for some of them several years ago. How do they recognize their nests? How do they fly so many miles, all the way from Goya, Argentina without getting lost? Nobody was ever able to answer these questions. It's truly a mys- tery that such a tiny bird, 5-6" long, with a brain not much big- ger that a peanut has such a memory and such a tremendous sense of direction. When we, normal human beings, take a trip in our car, even a relatively short 120-150 miles trip, we usually carry with us 2-3 maps to identify the itin- erary, the road that will take us where we planned to go. Not the swallows, they don't need any map, but they know exactly in what direction to fly and where to stop. Incidentally, we know that when they fly they keep their beaks open to catch as many insects, mosquito, small flies, as they can to feed them- selves and eventually, after their arrival to San Juan Capistrano to bring back to their nest to feed their babies. Each swallow gen- erally lays 5-6 eggs and have just as many babies, which are hungry all the time. Another characteristic of this bird is that it doesn't choose a tree to build its nest as most birds do building their nest with small sticks, leaves, straw and sawdust, swallows' nest is solid- ly built and resembles a small cement house. Swallows peck at the soil collecting a small quanti- ty of dirt in their beaks, then using water they make a paste that enable them to build a mud plaster nest or repair the last year nest. Some of the old Missions are: San Antonio, San Gabriel, San Luis, San Francisco, San Buenaventura, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara, San Rafael. Today, all these well-preserved Missions are among the oldest structures and the most visited historic monuments in California. Californians are very proud of them. ToNY GhEzzo

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