Sandakan (The Little HongKong)

May 9, 2011

Swiftlets

Filed under: Information — Cedric @ 1:06 pm

These birds’ nests are edible!

Swiftlets are best known to Sabahans as the birds whose edible nests are the source of brids’ nest soup.

Although Sabah has 4 species of swiftlets that build nests on limestone and sandstone cave walls, only 2 species produce to commercially valuable birds’ nests. They are the white-nest swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus) and the black-nest swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus). It is easier to tell them apart by the type of nests they build than when they are flying.

World’s most expensive soup?

The price of unprocessed nests is about RM1,000/kg of black nests and RM5,000/kg for white nests! In Hong Kong, processed black and white nests can fetch up to US$2,000/kg and US$4,000/kg respectively. A bowl of authentic bird’s nest soup there can cost US$60 (RM220) or more!

The best and most expensive birds’ nests are the white nests. It is made solely from saliva cement mixed with very few feathers. The black-nest swiftlet builds its nest out of saliva cement mixed with many feathers.

Bird’s nest is a multi-million dollar business in Asia. Each year, Indonesia exports 80-100 tonnes of these nests to Hong Kong while Malaysia export 10 tonnes of its finest nests. Chinese communities in North America eat more than 30 tonnes annually.

Cave swiftlets are like bats.

Like bats, Aerodramus cave swiftlet use echolocation to search for food and to fly in dark caves.  Echolocation (biosoner) is way to ‘see’ by hearing. A swiftlet makes clicking noises and listens to the echoes returning at different times and loudness levels. These differences are used by the swiftlet to ‘see’ its surroundings.

Unlike a bat’s echolocation, the clicking noises made by Aerodramus swiftlets are within the human range of hearing  (3-10 kHz).

Swiftlet facts

~ Aerodramus swiftlets weigh about 14 grams and are 10 cm long. They can live for 15-20 yrs,

~ The best quality processed black nest is “taohu yen”after the town of Tawau in Sabah where birds’ nests are actively traded.

~ You can witness the harvesting of black birds’ nest in the Gomantong Caves in the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain in March or April, and then in August or September. It is estimated that there are about one million swiftlets in the Gomantong caves!

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2 Comments »

  1. that is cool

    Comment by tiff — January 30, 2012 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  2. i love this site

    Comment by tiff — January 30, 2012 @ 10:07 pm | Reply


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