The swiftlets’ hotel ( poem, a haiku)
As we hike uphill, we see tall buildings rearing swiftlets for the bird nest.
1 kg of raw bird nest fetches about RM5000.
My friend, Ah Seng is an entrepreneur, investing into rearing swiftlets. One needs land and a bird building costing about RM300K or above. Some convert their shops into “bird hotels.” They arrange for swift mating music, have swift droppings in the buildings to provide the smell. A certain temperature and humidity are maintained.
It’s a Chinese belief that bird nest enhances health and beauty. Swiftlet bird nests are really small. It takes about 120 nests to weigh 1 kg. Each kilo costs Rm 5000. The nests are actually made from the saliva of both the male and female swiftlets. It takes them about 2 months to build a nest.
Farmers normally harvest the nests after eggs are laid and the fledglings have flown off. The swiftlets do not fly off but will build another nests for the next season. Like turtles and salmons, the fledglings will return to make nests and lay eggs when they mature into adults.
by Toh H L, photographer and writer