23 Aug 2014
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Mission to Turn off the Swallows' iPod

Recordings of the birds' mating call will stop May 31, officials say.

Officials at will stop hitting the replay button on the recording of swallows mating calls at the end of the month, they announced today.

The program, , isn't needed beyond May 31 because most cliff swallows in Southern California will have chosen where they want to settle for 2012, according to a Mission press release.

The scientific project, under the direction of University of Tulsa biology professor Charles Brown, will be implemented again next March, when the vocalization will resume through the end of May.

Media near and far reported the story of the musical experiment.

"The recording is of courtship songs that males use to attract females. And males would be attracted too because they are very social birds," Brown said before the play button was pushed.

"A systematic program of playing it a few times a day, when the weather is good and during the times they would be foraging, I think there's a good chance they will come in," he said.

Mission officials said Brown's hunch was right. When music started to eminate from speakers placed behind the statue of Father Junipero Serra on the Mission grounds in early April, cliff swallows were spotted feeding overhead several times, and a few cliff swallows flew in to investigate the recorded sounds. 

Earlier this month, a nesting colony of cliff swallows was found about a quarter mile south of the Mission on a building in San Juan Capistrano by Dr. Walter Piper, a biologist at Chapman University in Orange, the Mission reported.

"I think that eventually we'll get the birds back,” Brown said in a press release. “It may not be this year, it may not even be next year. But I think if we keep trying long enough, eventually, some individuals will come by, they'll see the Mission and they will realize it's a good place to nest, as they did in the past.”


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