7 forest wonders: 4 Bird’s nests

Nest

© cokesmithphototravel.com

It takes 45 days for southeast Asian swiftlets (Collocalia spp.) to build their nests, using their own saliva, on the walls of tropical forest caves, but they can be consumed in minutes in the famous bird’s nest soup, whose unique, gelatinous texture has been enjoyed for more than a millennium. In Hong Kong alone, more than 100 tonnes of the nests – which are thought to encourage tissue repair and to boost the immune system – are eaten every year. They mostly come from Indonesian forests, and harvested correctly the process could be sustainable. But increasing demand is leading to abuse: unscrupulous har­vesters remove the nests before the eggs hatch and the fledgelings mature, or take them so frequently that the birds don’t have time to recover. Illegal logging and forest fires are also destroying the swiflets’ habitat.

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