Sunday, November 27, 2011

Edible-Nest Swiftlet

Aerodramus fuciphagus
Edible-Nest Swiftlet... what a weird name for a bird! But have you ever heard of Bird's Nest Soup? This is the bird whose nest is in that soup. Makes more sense now, right?

When you normally think of a birds nest, you think of sticks, and leaves, and rocks, and little plastic things. Not things that are generally found in soup. But the Edible-Nest Swiftlet uses none of those materials. Their nest is a collection of built up, hardened saliva!

...OK, so saliva is not the most appetizing thing either. But the nests are collected and soaked and steamed to make soup, which is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. The soup is described as having a gelatinous texture.

Unfortunately, the harvesting of these nests has damaged some local populations over the last few hundred years. Some are even going regionally extinct. Conservation programs have been put into place in some countries to protect the wild birds, and a practice known as "House Nesting" has cropped up. This process involves attracting the Swiftlets to nest in man-made structures. Birds that build the wrong kind of nest have their nests removed, but those with the correct nest type are left alone. Over time, a near-captive colony can be sustained that produces only the nests required by the trade. However, because these nests are produced "artificially," they fetch lower prices and a demand for "true nests" continues. Reminds me a bit of the diamond industry, but that's a whole different story.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South East Asia
Size : Length up to 4in (11cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Apodiformes
Family : Apodidae -- Genus : Aerodramus -- Species : A. fuciphagus

1 comment:

  1. This soup sounds awful...yeks! And who will rather eat the nest of the bird than save it! I hope this spice is not gone forever!


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