Environment

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The Birds of the Torre del Codina, Chapter 6: The Swallow

> Listen to the song of the swallow:

 

Swallows in the nest
Swallows in the nest

 

The mythical swallow(which in our country is also pronounced “aurineta” and also “oroneta”), is one of the birds that stays in the Torre del Codina every year. When the good weather arrives, its graceful and incessant flight constantly crosses the sky of the courtyard of the Torre, to make its nest in the space of the shed of the old wine glasses.

 

Baby swallows calling out to mother.
Baby swallows calling out to mother.

 

The word comes from the classical Latin “hirunda”, and it seems that its original meaning may be very old, perhaps from an ancient Mediterranean pre-Indo-European language, probably Semitic. It has always been associated with the swallow as a symbol of bliss, luck and fortune, and different cultures have treated it with affection and sympathy, to be the bearer of the new good of the arrival of spring.

 

Swallow in flight.
Swallow in flight.

 

It is a small bird, of agile and peculiar flight. His body is dark above and white below. His singing is a high-pitched, characteristic squeal. And it stands out for its flying skills that make it able to change direction in an instant.

 

Swallow on the railing of the cup of the Torre del Codina.
Swallow on the railing of the cup of the Torre del Codina.

 

Their diet is exclusively insectivorous and therefore they need to live in warm temperatures to survive. This means that every autumn they migrate from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa on a long journey of thousands of miles.

 

Swallows flying ashore.
Swallows flying ashore.

 

The ancestral respect for swallows is reflected in the legend of the “Book of Facts” of King James I, when he tells that during the conquest of Valencia in 1233, after the siege of Burriana, when he was going to raise the camp , the king noticed that a swallow had made the nest on the main pole of his tent. He ordered her not to get up until the swallow and her cubs were gone. This is how the chronicle puts it:

“E som a Burriana. E quan vench que·n volguem levar la ost, Iª oreneta havia feit niu prop de la escudela en lo tendal; e manam que no·n levassen la tenda tro que ella se’n fos anada ab sos fiyls, pus en nostra fe era venguda”.

 

Swallow.
Swallow.

 

In recent years, the swallow population across Europe has declined by almost 50% and the species continues to decline. The causes are many and varied, but the modification of natural habitats, both in hibernation and in our home, are the main reasons. Destruction of their nests is currently prohibited, and swallows have been protected from extinction. It is possible that the reduction of flying insects in rural areas, due to the elimination of biodiversity, and the indiscriminate use of herbicides and pesticides that lead to some bad practices of intensive agriculture, are the main cause of the vulnerability of the species.

 

Swallows inside the cupola tower of the Torre del Codina.
Swallows inside the cupola tower of the Torre del Codina.

 

Our writers and poets have sung the joy of seeing the swallow’s flight, which is why we end this writing with some of the most popular verses in our literature:

Adéu, orenetes

torneu l’any que vé.

La branca florida

traurà el cirerer.

Rovell a les teules;

silenci del niu.

Sou fora vosaltres

és fora l’estiu.

Tomàs Garcés

 

Oreneta jove.
Oreneta jove.

 

Xiscles d’orenetes,

núvols de xim-xim

i ais de fulles tendres

bategen l’abril.

J.M. López Picó

 

Swallow hunting insects on the fields.
Swallow hunting insects on the fields.

 

Si fugis de la nit,

oreneta, vine:

tan a prop del cel

aquí sempre és de dia;

lo sol no s’hi pon,

la lluna no minva.

Jacint Verdaguer

 

Oreneta a la Torre del Codina.
Oreneta a la Torre del Codina.

 

Davant genteta

potser poruga, arraulideta,

ella és qui diu:

-Sóc més, sóc més que una oreneta:

jo só l’estiu.

Josep Carner

 

Jaume Ramon Solé.

Credits: Images owned by Jaume Ramon Solé – La Torre del Codina.

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