Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Barn Swallows

"Sarikei in Flight" - Government magazine 1991

t's Superman, it's a plane, no it's a bird! The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) has a long forked tail and curved, pointed wings. The barn swallows are not the same as the swiftlets (Collocalia Family) that have recently been commercially reared in Sarikei birdhouses for their edible bird nests (stay tuned for another post). Surprise! The swallows are migratory birds from places like Japan and Siberia that fly to Sarawak to escape the harsh winter. There is a 5-year study on these migratory swallows in Sri Aman by the Sarawak Biodiversity Council on their impact to Sarawak's ecosystem and potential as a tourist attraction.

Sarikei 2006 - Remnants of swallows' nests.
Cleaned ceiling of a Wharf Road shophouse front.

The barn swallows build cup-shaped nests with mud collected with their beaks. The inside of the nest is lined with saliva, feathers and grass. The female lays 4-5 eggs. Both parents construct the nest and feed the young. Before man made structures were available, they roost on cliffs and in caves. They like to build their nests under the sheltered ceilings of Sarikei shop fronts. I used to live in a shophouse and we had a peep hole in the floor of the first floor to see eye to eye with the swallows nesting in the ceiling below.

Sarikei 2006 - Swallows hanging out on power lines
(source: weltrekordreise)

Sarikei was known as "swallow town" because these barn swallows swarmed downtown at dusk noisily to catch airborne insects attracted by the bright lights. They then settled down for their power naps and electric dreams on the electric power lines. In the early 2000's, most downtown power lines were buried underground for the modern lightings. Nests under the shop front ceilings were also removed to eliminate the nuisance of birds droppings landing on unsuspecting customers. These drove a lot of swallows away but some still come back to Sarikei.

Now for the important question to the classic Sarikei joke: has anyone ever won the 4D lottery after been struck by swallows' poop?

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burunghelang said...

My dad's Datsun got pooped a lot. We "kept" some on the ground floor ceiling for a long time. Used to play with the chicks. They are very noisy and insatiably hungry all the time.

fred said...

got struck by those lucky bastard dropping right before a dinner at a restaurant (forgot the name, but its above Victory electronic)... and no, I didnt win any 4d ticket. :)

gongpiang said...

Is a delight to watch the birds coming in the evening starting at 5:30pm when the sky is still bright and flying in V-formation above the mangroves trees next to the Rajang port authority’s warehouse. The noisiest period would be around 7pm when the birds are flying low and settle for the night and the noise starts to pick up once again in the early morning around 6:30am when the birds woke up and start taking off and to where? I don’t know. If Kangaroo is to OZ and Kiwi is to NZ than Swallow must be to Sarikei.

During the fruits season you could notice bats flying pass the town too and next morning the folks will start selling them in the morning market.

Daniel Yiek said...

I think just about every Sarikei denizen & car had the fortune to be bombed by the swallows' black n white poop. At least it didn't stink.

I have tasted fruit bats before. Quite eerie to look at them in the market.

bongkersz said...

happy new year dude :) yeah i guess just about every sarikeian had the fortune. I did :P twice that i remember

love said...

get a drop or 2, is must when visiting sarikei. it's become normal when someone get 1 even on the 'head'. Ha ha. me got 5 Hit on motorbike & myself within 30min round the town @ 6pm.

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