Information on the Swallows of Goya and their amazing annual journey


The Swallows of Goya -
Flight Plan of a Fantastic Flight

Story of the Swallows Credits

In the Rotarian spirit, when two cities have a link, whether it is by folklore or of the soul, they declare themselves sister cities. Goya, in the province of Corrientes, next to the deep river Paraná, and San Juan Capistrano, always and each year exactly on the same day, the day of Saint Joseph, in mid-morning.

When the first band arrives, some one hundred swallows, as for two hundred swallows, as for two hundred years, the bells of the old Franciscan monastery ring while the swallows descend to a sow altitude, reconnoitering the terrain to the delight of thousands of tourists, among them many children that had arrived in order to be present for their arrival.

They arrive in search of the sunny valleys of California, the immense vineyards that produce strong wine, the "Italy – Swiss wine" and the interminable fruit orchards in the welcoming slopes of the Sierras, in the Andes of the north.

In truth, they have been arriving for centuries and millennia to fulfill faithfully their biologic destiny: to live and reproduce themselves in benign climates within a harmonious scheme of control and regulation of insects and plagues. That is their destiny in the integral plan of nature.

Feeding themselves on insects, spiders, flies, worms, the reason for their incredible voracity is the following:

  1. To feed themselves, in order to live and reproduce.
  2. To store fat in their tissues, which will be their fuel for the return flight.

For centuries the origin of the migration was unknown in Capistrano, as if to say that the airport of origin was unknown, until in the present century the origin of migration was able to be determined exactly: Goya, Corrientes, Argentina.

24,000 Kilometers! (That’s 15,000 miles)

I studied their flights and routes and have the certainty that they complete a fantastic flight of 12,000-kilometer (7,500 miles) to Capistrano, and completing the 24,000 kms. With a return flight, almost a complete flight around the planet earth.

Under the Roman arches of the corridors of the Franciscan monastery of Capistrano, that has more than three centuries of existence, and dates from the Spanish conquest, a lay brother helped me in this investigation.

Thus I found that the swallows leave Goya on the 18th day of February, at dawn, in successive bands, and that they arrive all together in Capistrano on the 19th day of March, taking exactly thirty days to cover 12,000 kms.

During the flight, that is to say, during the thirty days that the voyage lasts, they do not eat or drink, since they fly from dawn to sunset in order not to waste time.

They fly at an altitude of more than 2,ooo kms. (6,600 ft.) In order to take advantage of the fast and favorable currents (tail winds) and, besides, because at that altitude they avoid plundering birds.

Their flight plan lasts fifteen hours of flight daily, in steps of 450 kms. With a velocity of 30 kms. (18 miles) per hour, always taking advantage of the wines.

The flight that begins in Goya follows the valleys of the Paraná and Paraguay rivers, until reaching Lake Mirin, following the dynamic currents that produce he large masses of air of the south that move towards the equator.

After Mirin, their route changes to the west, in search of the valleys of the Andes and, later crossing the equator, they go to a higher flight altitude in order to take advantage of the dynamic currents that produce the large masses of air that move towards the North Pole.

They do not cross the Andes until they have reached the Gulf of Mexico, and by way of the Yucatan they look for the west and the Pacific, in order to fly along the shore of Baja California and enter the valley of Riverside.

Already in California, and after the reception of the ringing of the friendly bells, they become a decisive factor in the complex establishing of a healthy environmental balance of diseases, regulating the harvest of fruits, while accumulating reserves of fat that will be the fuel for the return flight.


The fat that accumulates in their tussues is equivalent to the combustible liquid of the tank of an airplane.

For their long flight, the same coming as returning (12,000 kms. Each way), of 30 journeys of 450 kms., each swallow stores during his stop 120 grams of fat, that is a "full tank." As a pilot at the command of a long distance flight would say.

It is significant that during the 120 days that their insecticidal campaign lasts, according to my calculations, he swallow must ingest 1,000 insects daily, between flies, spiders and worms.

A detail in order to appreciate the significance of the number mentioned above for the biological and environmental equilibrium, is that a single band of swallows destroys, in one campaign, a billion insects, a result that no insecticide would be able to do better, and all without causing the least danger, neither to man nor to his fauna nor flora.

It is a work unpublished and exceptional, carried out equally as much in Goya as in Capistrano.

The range of its "full tank" of 120 grams of fat, is no less than 12,000 kms. At an hourly velocity of 30 kms. With a consumption per kilometer of0.01 grams. A medium jet (727) would have required 100 thousand kilograms of "JPI", a fuel especially for urbines, whose estimated costs is 60 cents per liter.

I remained intrigued with all that I investigated in Capistrano and returned to Nevada and my work table, in order to study the principals of this fantastic flight.’

I was interested in the relation of the Operational Performances between a swallow flying a "Long Range" (long distance) and a medium jet, also on "Long Range."

Therefore I calculated and compared fat-calories with JPI-calories and found that the ratio of the PDM, (maximum weight of [decolaje] of a Boeing 737 and a swallow is simply incredible.

The jet taking the 737 (two turbines, low consumption), burns 15 kilograms (minimum) per kilometer, while the swallow burns only 0.01 grams of fat, signifying that the consumption of the jet is a million times greater.


  1. Origin of the Flight: Goya, Corrientes, Argentina
  2. Final destination. Capistrano, California, USA


  1. Distance of total flight . . . 12,000 km.
  2. Distance of each segment . . . 450 km.
  3. Number of segments . . . 30
  4. Type of flight . . . . . VFR (daylight)
  5. Total Real time of flight. . 450 hours
  6. Total calendar time . . . 30 days
  7. Total fuel consumption . . . 120 gm.
  8. Fuel performance . . . 0.01 gm. Grams per kilometer
  9. Cruising velocity . . . . 30 km./hour
  10. P.M.D. (maximum weight at takeoff). 280 gm.

Of course, all does not end here.

The Boeing engineers have made their things well enough, and with the new equipment for the year 2000, with new motors, wings of fibers in the third millennium they will bring about an unbelievable race in order to catch up to the performance of the swallows. You should not forget, dear reader, that for the engineers of Boeing, it was only several decades ago that they did their apprenticeship, while for the birds from the Mesozioc Age, 65 million years ago, the perfecting of it took them 63 million years, until the Cenozoic Age. Besides, the jet, a gigantic metallic swallow, takes you, by the same rout (almost) with a velocity and comfort that the atavistic urgency of the swallows does not demand, but that man requests.

We believe that in interesting, in any case, to take a trip to Capistrano in March in order to feel, as I, the emotion of the bells ringing as centuries ago, to greet the arrival of the Correntians swallows. And, to have more reason for believing in God and feeling happy to live on the planet earth, and to enjoy together the children that congregate there every year, not being subjugated by the incredible efficiency of the swallows in fantastic flight but for the poetic magic of the dream of an even more incredible than the flight itself.



By Enrique Bermudez – courtesy of Para Todos Magazine –

Correspondent in Argentina Pedro Iribarren, Director/Proprietor of the journal NUEVA ETAPA of Mar de Plata, Argentina translation by Charles Heizman.

This article appeared in the April/May, 1996 issue of Para Todos Magazine, a local Spanish language magazine, published by and edited by Silvia Ichar who also comes from Argentina.

(This translation is literal, with little attempt to rewrite it in good English prose.)

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