Swiftlet


.arikah.ne
Description
The birds called Swiftlets or Cave Swiftlets are contained within the four genera Aerodramus, Hydrochous, Schoutedenapus and Collocalia. They form the Collocaliini tribe within the swift family Apodidae. The group contains around thirty species mostly confined to southern Asia, south Pacific islands, and northeastern Australia, all within the tropical and subtropical regions. They are in many respects typical members of the Apodidae, having narrow wings for fast flight, with a wide gape and small reduced beak surrounded by bristles for catching insects in flight. What distinguishes many but not all species from other swifts and indeed almost all other birds (but the Oilbird) is their ability to use a simple but effective form of echolocation to navigate in total darkness through the chasms and shafts of the caves where they roost at night and breed. Their nests are often collected for the Chinese delicacy Bird’s nest soup.
Genus Aerodramus
See Imag [1][2]
See Maps of Geographic Rang [3][4][5][6][7]
Introduction
The Genus Aerodramus in family Apodidae is of special interest due to its use of echolocation and their intricately constructed nests which are harvested and bought at extremely high prices. These birds are closely related to the oilbirds which also nest in caves and use echolocation. Also the hummingbird and the nightjars are close relatives (Lee). The swifts remain one of the more complicated groups of birds to taxonomically separate. Plumage is usually dull, with shades of black, brown, and gray and the physical structures are very similar. Swiftlets have four toes, except the Papuan swiftlet which lacks the back toe, the hallux (Lee). Legs are very short, preventing the bird from perchering, but allowing the bird to cling to vertical surfaces. The birds are able to glide due to very long primary wing feathers and small breast muscles. These larger swiftlets weigh about 14 grams (Lee). Male and female swiftlets look similar. These birds are monogamous and both take part in caring for the nestlings. Males perform aerial displays to attract females and mating occurs at the nest. The breeding season overlaps the wet season; which corresponds to an increased insect population. Clutch size depends on the location and the food source, but Aerodramus swiftlets lay around 1-2 eggs. The eggs are a dull white color and are laid in intervals of every other day. These swiftlets are colonial nesters; building nests in high, dark corners on cave walls (Camfield). Swiftlets in temperate zones do migrate but, most Aerodramus swiftlets live in the south Pacific and do not migrate. These birds usually remain in one cave. Some examples of caves include the Niah Caves, Gunung Mulu National Park, and Niah National Park which are all located on the island of Sarawak, off of Malaysia (Hobbs).
The use of echolocation was once used to separate Genus Aerodramus from the non-echolocating Genuses, Collocalia and Hydrochous. But recently, the genus Collocalia was discovered making similar clicking noises in and outside the cave (Thomassen, 2004). Behaviors, such as what materials the nests contain, can be used to depict between certain species of Aerodramus (Lee, 1996). Swiftlets are insectivores; hymenoptera and diptera being the most abundant prey (Lourie, 2000). Typically, swiftlets leave the cave during the day to forage and return to their roost at night (Price, 2005). Swiftlets are found in limestone caves ranging from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific (Marcone, 2005). Over the past twenty years, the high demand for these unique nests has affected the swiftlet population (Hobbs, 2003).
Echolocation
The genus, Aerodramus, was thought to be the only echolocating swiftlet in the family Apodidae. These birds use echolocation to locate their roost in dark caves. Unlike a bat’s echolocation, Aerodramus swiftlets make clicking noises that are well within the human range of hearing (Price, 2005). The clicks consist of two broad band pulses (3-10 kHz) separated by a slight pause (1-3 msec). The interpulse periods (IPPs) are varied depending on the level of light; in darker situations the bird emits shorter IPPs, as obstacles become harder to see, and longer IPPs are observed when the bird nears the exit of the cave. This behavior is similar to bats as they approach targets. The birds also emit a series of low IPPs followed by a vocalization call when approaching the nests; presumed to warn nearby birds. The frequency of clicks does not aid in echolocation but rather the bird gathers temporal information about its surroundings.
It is thought that double clicks are used to discriminate between individua birds. Aerodramus sawtelli, Atiu Swiftlet, and Aerodramus maximus are the only swiftlets which emit single clicks. The single click is thought be used to avoid voice overlap during echolocation. The use of a single click might be associated with a shift in eastern Pacific swiftlets. If so determining how many clicks Aerodramus ocistus emits, could further this hypothesis. It was also discovered that both the Atiu Swiftlet and the Papuan Swiftlet, emit clicks while foraging outside the cave at dusk; a behavior not common to any swiftlets (Fullard, 1993).
Three hypotheses are used to describe how echolocation evolved in the Genu Aerodramus and, more recently, other clades in the family Apodidae. One hypothesis states that echolocation evolved from an ancestral species of swiftlets and was lost in the geneses which lack echolocation. A second hypothesis is that echolocation evolved independently, only in the geneses which are able to echolocate. The third scenario involves a combination of the first two. The first hypothesis would involve three events, one having echolocation evolve once in two genuses and then being lost twice in other clades. The second hypothesis would need only two events to occur; echolocation evolved independently in only two genuses. This suggests that the second scenario was more likely to occur.
Several subunits are needed to produce the echolocating system. Past studie have thought that the loss of one of these subunits was more likely to occu than acquiring all the traits needed to echolocate. But a recent study suggest that the echolocating subunits were mainly located in the central nervou system, while other subunits were already present and capable of use befor echolocation even evolved. This study used the second hypothesis stating tha echolocation evolved independently in Aerodramus and Collocalia, with the evolution of complex traits needed to complete the echolocation system. This hypothesis might be more likely to occur than the subsequent loss of the subunits in other clades of Apodidae (Thomassen, 2005).
Food
Authentic bird’s nest soup is made using the nests of the swiftlet. Instead o twigs and straw, the swiftlet makes its nest from strands of gummy saliva which harden when exposed to air. Once the nests are harvested, they ar cleaned and sold to restaurants, where they are served simmered in chicke broth
Authentic bird’s nest soup is quite popular throughout Asia, perhaps because i has the reputation of being an aphrodisiac. It is also quite costly; many wester restaurants serve a less expensive version consisting of soup with noodle shaped to resemble a bird’s nest
Cave ecology
Guano (dung) from both the swiftlets and the many bats that inhabit the caves supports a huge array of specialized animals that feed on the dung. There are yet other creatures that have evolved to feed on these dung eaters as well as on the bats and the swiftlets themselves, including snakes that can climb the sheer walls to snatch a passing meal and huge carnivorous crickets that prey on chicks and bat pups.
This ecosystem is self-sustaining, the only link with the outside being the birds and the bats that bring the nutrients into the caves in the first place.
The Philippine municipality of El Nido in Palawan, known for its limestone cliffs and pristine beaches is home to a thriving Bird’s Nest market. The name El Nido is the Spanish term for literally “The Nest”. Many locals still practice manual climbing of the limestone caves to gather Swiftlet nests.
References
Camfield, Alaine. “Family Apodidae”. Animal Diversity Web. University o Michigan Museum of Zoology http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Apodidae.html>.
Fullard, James H. “Echolocation in Free-Flying Atiu Swiftlets (Aerodramu sawtelli) ”. Biotropica 25 (1993): 334-339
Gausset, Quentin. (2004) “ Chronicle of a Foreseeable Tragedy: Birds’ Nest Management in the Niah Caves (Sarawak)”. Human Ecology 32: 487-506.
Hobbs, Joseph J. (2004) “Problems in the harvest of edible birds’ nests i Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysian Borneo”. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 2209-2226.
Lee, Patricia L. M., Clayton, Dale H., Griffiths, Richard, Page, Roderic D. M “Does behavior reflect phylogeny in swiftlets (Aves: Apodidae)? A test usin cytochrome b mitochondrial DNA sequences”. Evolution 93 (1996): 7091-7096
Lourie, SA, Tompkins, DM. “The diets of Malaysian swiftlets”. IBIS 142 (2000) 596-602
Marcone, Massimo F. (2005) “Characterization of the edible bird’s nest th Caviar of the East”. Food Research International 38:1125-1134.
Price, Jordan J., Johnson, Kevin, P., Bush, Sarah H., Clayton, Dale H “Phylogenetic relationships of the Papuan Swiftlet Aerodramus papuensis an implications for the evolution of avian echolocation”. IBIS 147 (2005): 790 -
Price, Jordan J., Johnson, Kevin P., Clayton, Dale H. “The evolution o echolocation in swiftlets”. Journal of Avian Biology 35 (2004): 135 -
Thomassen, Henri A., Tex, Robert-Jan, Bakker, Merijn A.G., Povel, G. David E “Phylogenetic relationships amongst swifts and swiftlets: A multi locu approach”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37 (2005): 264-277
Species
• Genus Hydrochous
◦ Waterfall Swift, Hydrochous gigas
• Genus Collocalia
◦ Glossy Swiftlet, Collocalia esculenta
◦ Cave Swiftlet, Collocalia linchi
◦ Pygmy Swiftlet, Collocalia troglodytes
• Genus Aerodramus
◦ Seychelles Swiftlet, Aerodramus elaphrus
◦ Mascarene Swiftlet, Aerodramus francicus
◦ Indian Swiftlet, Aerodramus unicolor
◦ Philippine Swiftlet, Aerodramus mearnsi
◦ Moluccan Swiftlet, Aerodramus infuscatus
◦ Mountain Swiftlet, Aerodramus hirundinaceus
◦ White-rumped Swiftlet, Aerodramus spodiopygius
◦ Australian Swiftlet, Aerodramus terraereginae
◦ Himalayan Swiftlet, Aerodramus brevirostris
◦ Indochinese Swiftlet, Aerodramus rogersi
◦ Volcano Swiftlet, Aerodramus vulcanorum
◦ Whitehead’s Swiftlet, Aerodramus whiteheadi
◦ Bare-legged Swiftlet, Aerodramus nuditarsus
◦ Mayr’s Swiftlet, Aerodramus orientalis
◦ Palawan Swiftlet, Aerodramus palawanensis
◦ Mossy-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus salangana
◦ Uniform Swiftlet, Aerodramus vanikorensis
◦ Palau Swiftlet, Aerodramus pelewensis
◦ Guam Swiftlet, Aerodramus bartschi
◦ Caroline Islands Swiftlet, Aerodramus inquietus
◦ Atiu Swiftlet, Aerodramus sawtelli
◦ Polynesian Swiftlet, Aerodramus leucophaeus
◦ Marquesan Swiftlet, Aerodramus ocistus
◦ Black-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus maximus
◦ Edible-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus fuciphagus
◦ German’s Swiftlet, Aerodramus germani
◦ Papuan Swiftlet, Aerodramus papuensis
• Genus Achoutedenapus
◦ Scarce Swift, Schoutedenapus myoptilus
◦ Schouteden’s Swift, Schoutedenapus schoutedeni
Category

Apodidae

Add comment December 14th, 2006

Swift?


did-you-mean.com
For other meanings of the word Swift see Swift (other meanings).
The swifts are birds superficially similar to swallows but are completely unrelated to those passerine species; swifts are in the separate order Apodiformes, which they formerly shared with the hummingbirds.
The resemblances between the swifts and swallows are due to convergent evolution reflecting similar life styles based on catching insects in flight.
The family scientific name comes from the Greek ?????, apous, meaning “without feet”, since swifts have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead on vertical surfaces. The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as see in the heraldic martlet.
Swifts are the most aerial of birds and some, like the Common Swift, even sleep and mate on the wing. One group, the Swiftlets or Cave Swiftlets have developed a form of echolocation for navigating through dark cave systems where they roost.
Like swallows and martins, the swifts of temperate regions are strongly migratory and winter in the tropics.
Many swifts have a characteristic shape, with a short forked tail and very long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. The flight of some species is characterised by a distinctive “flicking” action quite different from swallows.
The nest of many species is glued to a vertical surface with saliva, and the genus Aerodramus use only that substance, which is the basis for bird’s nest soup.

Add comment December 13th, 2006

Chronicle of a Foreseeable Tragedy: Birds’ Nests Management in the Niah Caves (Sarawak)


springerlink.com
Journal
Human Ecology
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
ISSN
0300-7839 (Print) 1572-9915 (Online)
Subject
Humanities, Social Sciences and Law
Issue
Volume 32, Number 4 / August, 2004
DOI
10.1023/B:HUEC.0000043517.23277.54
Pages
487-507
Online Date
Monday, December 06, 2004

(1) 
Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksholms kanal, 4, DK-1220 Copenhagen K., Denmark

Abstract  The number of birds’ nests harvested in the Niah cave today is only a fraction of what it used to be. This article focuses on the socioeconomic causes of the decline. It argues that the present situation is not directly linked to the tragedy of the commons, since the ownership of cave and nests is private. The tragic aspect is, rather, linked to an attitude of free riding which was threatening the private system of ownership in the 1980s, and which forced Penan owners to lease their caves to the former free riders (thereby diluting management responsibility), and to harvest nests as soon as possible (before the birds can lay eggs and reproduce). It is therefore the tragedy of a management system whose rules, intended to avoid open access and free riding, lead to unsustainable behavior. Since the birds cannot be privatized, it is also the tragedy of a system in which actors are unable to reach a consensus on how to manage sustainably a de facto common property resource.

birds’ nests - tragedy of the commons - common property resource management - Malaysia - Sarawak

Add comment December 12th, 2006

Does Behavior Reflect Phylogeny in Swiftlets (Aves: Apodidae)? A Test Using Cytochrome b Mitochondrial DNA Sequences

Patricia L. M. Lee, Dale H. Clayton, Richard Griffiths, Roderic D. M. Page
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 93, No. 14 (Jul. 9, 1996), pp. 7091-7096

.jstor.org

Swiftlets are small insectivorous birds, many of which nest in caves and are known to echolocate. Due to a lack of distinguishing morphological characters, the taxonomy of swiftlets is primarily based on the presence or absence of echolocating ability, together with nest characters. To test the reliability of these behavioral characters, we constructed an independent phylogeny using cytochrome b mitochondrial DNA sequences from swiftlets and their relatives. This phylogeny is broadly consistent with the higher classification of swifts but does not support the monophyly of swiftlets. Echolocating swiftlets (Aerodramus) and the nonecholocating “giant swiftlet'’ (Hydrochous gigas) group together, but the remaining nonecholocating swiftlets belonging to Collocalia are not sister taxa to these swiftlets. While echolocation may be a synapomorphy of Aerodramus (perhaps secondarily lost in Hydrochous), no character of Aerodramus nests showed a statistically significant fit to the molecular phylogeny, indicating that nest characters are not phylogenetically reliable in this group.

Add comment December 11th, 2006

Chronicle of a foreseeable tragedy: birds’ nests management in the Niah caves (Sarawak).

accessmylibrary.com
Source: Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Publication Date: 01-AUG-04
Author: Gausset, Quentin

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Chronicle of a foreseeable tragedy: birds’ nests management in the Niah caves (Sarawak).

COPYRIGHT 2004 Springer

INTRODUCTION

The exploitation of birds’ nests as food has a long history, dating back to the sixteenth century. Its trade from Borneo to China was already in existence when Dutch merchants began operating in the Malaysian and Indonesian region (Cranbrook, 1984, p. 150; Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, pp. 64-65). The nests are made out of the saliva and feathers of swiftlets. Once processed to remove the feathers, the nests are consumed in soups that are believed by many people (mainly Chinese) to have rejuvenating and cosmetic virtues. In Malaysia there are two main species of birds that produce edible nests: Aerodramus fuciphagus (producing the highly valued white nests) and Aerodramus maximus (producing black nests) (Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, pp. 2-16). They inhabit limestone caves, such as the Niah caves, which are the object of this study. In the Niah cave, the exploitation of black nests began fairly recently, less than 200 years ago (Harrisson and Jamuh, 1956; Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, p. 68; Medway, 1958). It soon became a major center of black nest production, which peaked at 18,500 kg per year in 1931 (i.e., 70% of the total production of black nests in the state of Sarawak; Cranbrook, 1984, p. 155). The fame of the Niah cave owes a lot to this huge production of nests, and also to the archeological discovery of the oldest human remains in South-East Asia (Harrisson, 1958). To protect this unique archeological site, the caves were made into a national heritage site under the authority of the Sarawak Museum, and later into a national park under the authority of the National Parks’ administration. Recently, the swiftlets have become a protected species.
(more…)

Add comment December 8th, 2006

Fouling the nest


answersingenesis.org
Christianity and the environment
by Carl Wieland
‘What should we think of the Greenhouse Effect?’ AiG speakers often face questions like this on environmental matters. It is helpful, even vital, to view such things from a Biblical perspective. But in a complex world, it may not be possible to give a rigidly ‘for’ or ‘against’ Christian response. Biblical principles are unchanging, but the situations we face, and the information available, are not.
Imagine you are a bureaucrat in 19th-century South America, contemplating the vast, seemingly limitless expanse of the Amazon jungle. Some poor villagers ask you for a permit to clear an acre for their crops. Or you’re the same bureaucrat in the distant future; some rich estate-owner asks if he can clear one of the last remaining stands of Amazonian trees, home of some of the rarest and most beautiful of God’s creatures, because they obstruct the breeze to his mansion. Presumably your response would be different in each case!
(more…)

Add comment December 7th, 2006

The edible Bird’s-nest, or Nest of the Java Swift (Collocalia Nidifica)

.pubmedcentral.nih.gov

J. R. Green
THE EDIBLE BIRD’S-NEST, OR NEST OF THE JAVA SWIFT (COLLOCALIA NIDIFICA). BY J. R. GREEN, B. Sc., B.A., Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge. THE swifts as a family are remarkable for certain peculiarities in the construction of their nests, fastening together the materials they use by a peculiar kind of secretion. The nest of the common swift of our own country has at -least its innermost layer so agglutinated. Collocalia faciphaga, according to Bernsteiin, fastens together in this way the whole of the structure. Perhaps the nmost interesting of the whole genus is C. nidifica, a species met with in Java and Borneo, concerning the construction of whose habitation much controversy has taken place. This species produces the so-called edible bird’s-nest, a delicacy long leld in high esteem by the Chinese and lately brought into prominence in England through the Health Exhibition at South Kensington last year.
(more…)

Add comment December 6th, 2006

Firm allowed to delay bird’s nest duty payment


Bangkok Post, Thailand - 7 hours ago
Phatthalung _ Phatthalung governor Suthep Komolpamorn has granted a concessionaire’s request to put off payment of edible bird’s nest duty due to falling sales as a result of the bird flu scare. The province agreed last week to give Siam Nest Co a reprieve as the bird flu scare had caused a sharp drop in purchase orders from its main buyers.

Under a 500-million-baht concession allowing the firm to collect edible birds’ nests from Nov 2003 to Sept 2008, Siam Nest was required to pay 125 million baht on signing the contract and another three instalments of 25 million baht each per year for five years.

Add comment December 5th, 2006

Structure of the monosialyl oligosaccharides derived from salivary gland mucin glycoproteins of the Chinese swiftlet (genus Collocalia). Characterization of novel types of extended core structure, Gal beta(1– –3)[GlcNAc beta(1—-6)] GalNAc alpha(1—-3)GalNAc(-ol), and of chain termination, [Gal alpha(1—-4)]0-1[Gal beta(1—-4)]2GlcNAc beta(1—- .)

jbc.org

JM Wieruszeski, JC Michalski, J Montreuil, G Strecker, J Peter-Katalinic, H Egge, H van Halbeek, JH Mutsaers and JF Vliegenthart

The mucus glycoproteins, the so-called nest-cementing substance, from the salivary gland of Chinese swiftlets (genus Collocalia) are mainly constituted of sialic acid-rich O-glycosylproteins. Alkaline reductive treatment of the crude material led to the release of some neutral and numerous monosialyl and disialyl oligosaccharides. These were fractionated by gel filtration, anion-exchange chromatography, and high- performance liquid chromatography. The structures of the monosialyl oligosaccharides were established by combination of sugar and methylation analysis, fast atom bombardment-mass spectrometry, and electron impact-mass spectrometry after permethylation and 1H NMR spectroscopy (at 500 MHz). Typically, some of the monosialyl oligosaccharides appeared to possess the core structure Gal beta(1—- 3)[GlcNAc beta(1—-6)]GalNAc alpha(1—-3)GalNAc-ol. Moreover, the (1– –6)-linked branch consisted of an unusual di- or trigalactosyl sequence, [Gal alpha(1—-4)0-1Gal beta(1—-4)Gal beta (1—-4)GlcNAc beta(1—-6). Thus, the most complex representatives of the monosialyl fraction from Collocalia mucin were found to be: (Formula: see text) The other compounds identified are partial structures thereof.

Add comment December 4th, 2006

Chronicle of a foreseeable tragedy: birds’ nests management in the Niah Caves (Sarawak) (1)


accessmylibrary.com

COPYRIGHT 2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation

KEY WORDS: birds” nests; tragedy of the commons; common property resource management: Malaysia; Sarawak.

INTRODUCTION

The exploitation of birds’ nests as food has a long history, dating back to the sixteenth century. Its trade from Borneo to China was already in existence when Dutch merchants began operating in the Malaysian and Indonesian region (Cranbrook, 1984, p. 150; Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, pp. 64-65). The nests are made out of the saliva and feathers of swiftlets. Once processed to remove the feathers, the nests are consumed in soups that are believed by many people (mainly Chinese) to have rejuvenating and cosmetic virtues. In Malaysia there are two main species of birds that produce edible nests: Aerodramus fuciphagus (producing the highly valued white nests) and Aerodramus maximus (producing black nests) (Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, pp. 2-16). They inhabit limestone caves, such as the Niah caves, which are the object of this study. In the Niah cave, the exploitation of black nests began fairly recently, less than 200 years ago (Harrisson and Jamuh, 1956; Koon and Cranbrook, 2002, p. 68; Medway, 1958). It soon became a major center of black nest production, which peaked at 18,500 kg per year in 1931 (i.e., 70% of the total production of black nests in the state of Sarawak; Cranbrook, 1984, p. 155). The fame of the Niah cave owes a lot to this huge production of nests, and also to the archeological discovery of the oldest human remains in South-East Asia (Harrisson, 1958). To protect this unique archeological site, the caves were made into a national heritage site under the authority of the Sarawak Museum, and later into a national park under the authority of the National Parks’ administration. Recently, the swiftlets have become a protected species.
(more…)

Add comment December 1st, 2006

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