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The swallows of Valencia

COC receives a seasonal visit from a wayward flock of fliers

Posted: August 5, 2009 8:40 p.m.
Updated: August 6, 2009 4:30 a.m.

An Argentinian cliff swallow peeks out from its mud-based home at the Boykin Hall building at College of the Canyons Valencia campus on Monday.


For decades, cliff swallows have flocked in the spring to nest at COC in numbers that rivaled — or even exceeded — their far more famous roost at Mission San Juan Capistrano. The birds mistake the Valencia campus’s angular concrete buildings for cliff faces, their preferred natural habitats.

They build unsightly mud nests on the walls of the buildings and leave their droppings spattered on the ground below.

The birds have a colorful history at the school. In 1985, school officials tried to thwart their nesting attempts using a gooey repellant.

The sticky stuff gummed up their wings, rendering immobile more than 30 swallows and killing a dozen more.

The next year, the college’s Board of Trustees voted to leave the birds in peace, forevermore.



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