Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

John James Audubon referred to them as “Republican Swallows”. Now, rather than getting too political, we must remember that Audubon died in 1851 and the Republican Party was not formed until three years later in 1854. His choice of name was based upon his observation of the Cliff Swallow’s highly social nature. Seldom do you see them singly, but rather, in large numbers whether feeding, nesting, or gathering nesting material as shown here. Each nest may contain between 1,000 to 4,000 mud pellets and generally takes between one and two weeks for both parents to construct. They build slowly, allowing time for the mud to dry and harden for if they don’t, or the weather is too humid, the nest may fail. This is countered to a degree by repairing and reusing old nests.

In the last 150 years its range has expanded from the West into the Great Plains and eastern part of North America as man erected suitable nest sites in the form of bridges and barns. There is a more recent occurrence which may illustrate the concern some have over the creeping secularization of society. Of course, this is just coincidental and really has no connection to the reality Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 7:35: “I tell you these things to help you; I am not putting difficulties in your path but setting before you an ideal, so that your service of God may be as far as possible free from worldly distractions.” (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Cliff Swallows are the swallows that traditionally return to San Juan Capistrano in California each March 19. In reality, they usually show up towards the end of February. But in recent years they have abandoned the old Spanish mission site in favor of the Vellano Country Club buildings along a golf course in the Chino Hills! Secularization indeed! Unfortunately, I’m afraid our tendency to slip in that direction carries with it more serious consequences.