Spit Take

November 23, 2015

Peacocks are known for their feathers, toucans for their beaks, and the edible-nest swiflet is famous for its spit. At the beginning of the breeding season, or about three times a year, these Asian birds create nests for their offspring out of their spit, which takes on a glue-like consistency when it dries. To many, the nests have long been considered a luxury as medicine or an aphrodisiac.

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Photo Credit: Me Me Soe/WCS Myanmar

As WCS Myanmar tells us, when harvested and sold, the nests can draw $1,000 per kilogram. Unfortunately, the babies living in them are not given the same value and often don't survive.

One city in Myanmar has piloted a solution. In Myeik, a special house was built close to the sea. Swiflets that nest there can safely raise their young, and each nest is collected only after it has been vacated.

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