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Swallow nest is a popular trading name for swiftlet's edible nest, a tiny bird found throughout South East Asia. The bird is from Apodidae family of Collocalia genus (Scientifically named Aerodramus). Collocalia is one among the unique and precious tropical birds, lovely tiny bird with strong flying endurance. They have narrow wings for fast flight, with a wide gap and small reduced beak surrounded by bristles for catching insects in flight. They are able to fly daytime for more than ten hours to search for food and use their sense of echolocation to determine its nesting and resting place in dark cavity. Their nest is built entirely from threads of their saliva, a rich gel secretion, produced by a pair of salivary glands under their tongue, which will harden when exposed to air. The most valued nest from these four species are; Collocalia Fuchipaga (edible nest or white nest), Collocalia Maxima (feather nest or black nest), Collocalia Esculanta (grass nest) and Collocalia Vanikorensis (grass cave nest).
Swiftlet nest has a long history which derived back from the Tang Dynasty. Through observation and validation, the Chinese medical practitioner discovered that swallow nest have some enhancing effect on the skin and lung. Due to its rarity and nutritional value, only the Emperor and family could consume these supreme delicacies. Since that era, swiftlet nest soup has become a part of Chinese tradition. Today, the Chinese still consume swiftlet nest as natural food to slow the aging process (refer to Epidermal Growth Factor), demulcent to the lung, relieving phlegm and coughs, and some purpose for yin effect to the human body. Current development in health science refers to some water-soluble glycoprotein found in swiftlet nest along with a complex protein composition that might influence medical properties in the human body.
There are two places for breeding swiftlets; in the cave (wild) and man-made house (cultured). Fuchipaga cultured nest or house nest is the most common in the market today. It commenced more than half of the world's total output of swiftlet nest production. Cave nest location is fixed and limited which result in a limited quantity production this also contributes to its higher price in market than the house nest. The cultered house will produce house bird's nest of 4 different colours; white nest, golden nest, orange nest and the red blood bird's nest.