One very profitable industry here is the “harvesting” of the nests of the birds called swifts. (Sadly it usually profits a select few who are already wealthy but let’s continue on with the interesting stuff). The male black-nest swiftlet enters a dark area and creates a nest made of his saliva which solidifies and becomes a small solid best attached to a cave wall in the natural environment, or a cement wall in the unnatural breeding buildings here. It takes just over a month to create using strands of the male’s saliva that solidifies.
The nests are used primarily for birds nest soup in China, and the soup sells for between $30 and $100 U.S. Birds nest may cost up to $2500 per kilogram in Asia. The nest dissolves into the hot soup and forms gelatinous chunks which are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Reported to be excellent for your health, especially your skin.
Here in Thailand, some wealthy entrepreneurs in the village have created large cement buildings with small openings for the swifts to fly into to create the nests. The buildings have loudspeakers which play repetitious songs of the swift to entice birds in and plant their nests. Then, the nests are harvested a few times in the year.
Walking through the town, it’s hard to tell when you hear real birds or the recordings. The sound can be a little overwhelming, and maybe a little sad when you can’t hear the frogs and cicadas and actual birds. But the swifts do have a lovely song!
Anyway the interesting cement block buildings are scattered throughout town. An interesting nesting animal that draws a pretty penny!