What is Bird's Nest? The Most Common Questions Answered 2022

Bird's Nest

Bird's Nest, which many consider the pinnacle of luxury dining, has been an exquisite gift and delicacy since the ancient Chinese Dynasty. Derived from the Chinese word Yan-Wo, these delicate white gold strands were integrated into modern-day society by the Chinese royalty.

For those ready to indulge, we have put together a few critical notes to help you in your decision.

Table of Content:

What is Bird's Nest?

Edible Bird's Nest White Swiftlet

Edible Bird's Nest is made up of interwoven strands of salivary laminae harvested exclusively from the Aerodramus family of swiftlets and then traditionally hand-picked and cleaned. Only the saliva from these six subspecies of the edible-nest Swiftlet is considered Edible Bird's Nest. Bird's Nest usually comes in palm-shaped cups, strands, or flakes. Although it gives off an eggy smell, it does not have a particular taste, and its texture is likened to softened gelatin. 

Types of Bird's Nest

Types and Color of Edible Bird's NestThuTruong - Getty Images

Bird's Nest only comes from a single species called the edible-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus), also known as the white-nest Swiftlet and native to South-East Asia. Unlike fish roes that are categorized according to the eggs of the different fish species, Bird's Nest is usually classified according to its color, which can range from crème white to yellow gold to crimson red, depending on the environment where it is harvested. Read this guide to find out more.

Where is Bird's Nest Produced?

Edible Bird's Nest Map and Location


Traditionally, Bird's Nest is harvested from natural caves found in South-East Asia and East Asia. Bird's Nest collectors would have to scale enormous heights measuring at least 150m using bamboo poles and rattan ladders to harvest the Nests. Presently, most of the Bird's Nest supply derives from farms due to the increase of swiftlets houses to curb the overwhelming demand for the commodity. 

Have you ever wondered which countries are the world's biggest producers of bird's nests? Indonesia leads with about 2,000 metric tonnes per year; Malaysia second with about 600 tonnes, and Thailand 400 tonnes. As of 2021, there are 16,731 swiftlet houses and five swiftlet caves that have been registered in Malaysia alone. 

Do Farm and Wild Bird's Nest Taste Different from One Another?

Cave and House Bird's Nest

The Swiftlet is an insectivorous bird that mainly consumes insects for its diet. Although most Bird's Nests are farmed from houses, the diet of the Swiftlet is not controlled, which explains why they taste almost identical whether they are from the natural caves or houses. 

Does Price Matter with Bird's Nest?

Generally, you can expect to fork out around USD$200 — give or take — for an ounce of premium white swiftlet Dried Bird's Nest. As you look into the various costs of producing Bird's Nest, it is evident that prices are highly reflective of the quality of Bird's Nest as well as the time and effort needed. If you are interested in choosing the best quality Bird's Nest for consumption, we've put up a guide to assist you.

Where Should You Store Bird's Nest and for How Long?

Storing Bird's Nest

Dried Bird's Nest can be stored between 0 - 4 degrees Celsius in the fridge. If stored correctly, the shelf-life of Dried Bird's Nest should last at least 3 years

Freshly cooked or Bottled Bird's Nest should be consumed immediately after opening or within three days if kept in an airtight container. With that said, we do not encourage eating from the bottle for several days as there is also a decent risk of contamination from added oral bacteria that you might not be aware of. Without preservatives & stabilizers, the Bird's Nest will also go bad quickly because of changes in temperature and humidity levels. 

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