Where Does Bird's Nest Soup Come From?

Looking at edible bird’s nests and bird’s nest soup, one of the most expensive foods in the world.

April 14, 2023

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Where Does Bird's Nest Soup Come From?


This episode is all about edible bird’s nests and Bird’s Nest Soup.

Edible bird nests are a traditional delicacy in east Asia. Especially in China. For centuries, wealthy Chinese people have consumed edible bird nests. Usually in the form of bird’s nest soup.

Throughout much of recent history, this dish has been one of the most expensive foods in the world.

No wonder people have called edible bird nests the “caviar of the east,” or “white gold.”

Perhaps the primary reason people spend ungodly amounts of money on bird’s nest soup is because of its medicinal properties. Well… It’s supposed medicinal properties, anyway.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s believed that the benefits you can get from eating these nests include: a prolonged life, increased attractiveness, increased libido, brain health, bone strength, no more diabetes, no more cancer, a stronger immune system, more energy, better looking skin, and better circulation.

Wow.  So basically, it sounds like an edible bird’s nest is a cure-all—a panacea. That’s pretty impressive!

But is it true?

And where do these nests come from? What do they look like?

In today's episode, we'll get into all of that. We’ll talk about which birds make these amazing nests, and how they do it.

We’ll also look at the way people harvest edible bird’s nests, the global industry for this product, and some ethical concerns.

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Links of Interest

Research Citations


White-nest Swiftlet nest (Aerodramus fuciphagus). Photo by Chanin/Adobe.
Freshly harvested White-nest Swiftlet nest (Aerodramus fuciphagus), complete with feces. Photo by Raju Kasambe/Wikimedia.
Cleaned and processed White-nest Swiftlet nests (Aerodramus fuciphagus). Wikimedia.
The mucilaginous slime that is bird's nest soup. Yum! Photo by tarfullhd/Adobe.
Farmed White-nest Swiftlets (Aerodramus fuciphagus) in a concrete "swiftlet hotel." Photo by Raju Kasambe/Wikimedia.

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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