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Harvest of Edible Swiftlet Nests

Have you tried a soup made with birds? With eggs? What about soup from the whole bird nest?


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There is one very unique job that can be found in Malaysia and several other Asian countries, which is collecting nests. Surprisingly, this profession is rare not only because it is really dangerous, but also one should obtain a special state license to collect nests, which later will be used in cooking.

The most heavily collected nests belong to swiftlets, which in Malaysia can be found in the Gomantong Caves, Borneo. The collection process lasts only between February to April and July to September. During the first period, swiftlets build their first nests. These nests are collected by humans because eggs are laid only in the second row of nests. The second period of harvesting starts after nestlings leave the nests empty.

Harvesting itself is a very extreme activity, as people use only precarious bamboo poles, rattan ladders, and ropes in order to climb the walls and ceilings of the cave and collect nests. But this work pays well, as swift's nests are very expensive. One kilo can cost about US$2,500, and a bowl of bird nest soup can range in price from US$30 to US$100.

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