Bird nest is an absolutely rich medicinal delicacy, and are considered as natural gifts due to their unique source. Bird nests are the nests of birds known as Swiftlets. Swiftlets have an extraordinary ability to build their nests with their saliva. The nests are edible, absolutely safe to eat, and are natural rich source of several nutrients.
How Do Swiftlets Build Their Unique Nests?
Bird Nest is produced by Swiftlets (Collocalia species). They use a glutinous secretion, also known as “nest cement” to bind together materials for nest building, or construct a whole nest with it. The nest cement is secreted from a pair of sublingual glands located beneath the tongue of the swiftlet.
Swiftlets often lay eggs and produce offspring up to three times annually. The breeding period usually last for up to 35 days. During the breeding seasons, the birds use their saliva and other items such as feathers to build their nests in high cave walls.
Swiftlets nests have a unique shape that is similar to the shape of a half moon or a human ear. An average nest has a diameter of 6-7 millimeter, it weighs about 10-15 gram, has a thin wall and a thick base. The entire nest is often whitish in color, though some nest may change color to whitish yellow or red due to environmental factors.
The female Swiftlets lay their eggs in the nests. When the eggs are hatched and the offspring fly off, the birds abandon the nests. The abandoned nests are the nests humans harvest for consumption.
Nutrients in Bird Nests
Bird nest is a natural source of rich nutrients. It contains potassium, calcium, protein and other rich nutrients. Also, bird nests contain ash, lipids (a molecule that include fats) and carbohydrate. Several research findings have also revealed that bird nests contain unique substances that can support cell division.
Bird nests are used as Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) which is effective for the treatment of several ailments and diseases. The nests have been considered as a good source for anti-aging and anti-cancer treatments. Also, the nest has been known to improve concentration level and enhance libido.
The Nature of Swiftlets
Since bird nests have become a unique and important part of food and nutrition, mostly in Asia, it’s absolutely important to understand the nature of the source of bird nests which are Swiftlets.
Swiftlets are birds that belong to the same family as Swallows, but a unique kind of Swallows named golden Swiftlets. Swiftlets dwell in caves, and are mostly found around the Pacific Island, North Australia, as well as the Indian Ocean in South and South-East Asia.
A fully grown Swiftlet has an average body length that is within 10cm and 22cm when the wings are fully spread. The body thickness of an average Swiftlet is about 4cm; it has a grayish brown feather with a unique golden complexion. The natural foods of Swiftlets are flying insects. Also, the birds feed on rain water and sip from lakes.