Monday, July 09, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei swiftlets and nests

Source: EBN Resources

The swiftlets (Collocalia Family) are not the same as the barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). The swiftlets have short bills, wide mouths, small and weak feet, and long, crescent-shaped wings whereas the barn swallow has similar wings but has a long forked tail.

Swiftlets and nests
Source: EBN Resources

The swiftlets feed on insects caught with their wide mouth while in flight. They only perch when they are sleeping or feeding their chicks. The monogamous parents lay 2 eggs and both incubate the eggs for 3-4 weeks. The chicks remain nested for 43 days. The swiftlets can live up to 10-20 years.

Sarikei swiftlet in flight, 2007.
Where was it heading? Do not scroll down yet.
The swiftlets' nests resembles a cupped hand with one side stuck to a wall and the other side for them to rest. After they have mated, their salivary glands excretes thin gelatinous strands of saliva which they use to make their nests.

Types of swiftlet nests

These are the types of swiftlet nests from 3 different species
  • Whitenest swiftlet (官燕)
  • Blacknest swiftlet (白洞燕 ; more feathers in the nest)
  • Grass swiftlet (草燕; more weeds than saliva in the nest)

According to Chinese classical books on healthcare, swiftlet nests were imported into China from South East Asia since the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). Depending on which research paper you read or whom you asked, birdnest apparently has high nutritional value from its enzymes and its protein. Nest is best?

Swiftlet nest soup

When you buy swiftlets' nest, choose the hard and cripsy ones, not the wet and soft ones (which will weigh more and grow mould easily). The better quality ones have less feathers in them. The birds' nest will expand 7-8 times when soaked in water. After 30mins, manually remove the feathers and impurities. Stew the cleaned birds' nest with water, rock sugar and ginseng for 45-60mins in a pot. Do you have a nested interest?

Sarikei downtown: Abandoned swiftlet house, 2007
The gaping hole is the entrance.
The nests outside are from swallows, not swiftlets.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sarikei enterprenuers copied ideas from West Malaysia's swiftlet houses. Old houses were equipped with recordings of swiftlet noises and mating calls to attract swiftlets to nest. At least 10 swiftlet rearers started to use downtown rooms as swiftlet houses. The return on investment was better than the low rentals they could collect for these rooms. In 2003, Sarikei District Council ordered them to move the birdhouses to the rural areas to reduce the noise and health hazard from the bird droppings.

Sarikei Ta Kwong cinema, 1990s.
Find the shop at the front.
Submitted by: ST

If you drive to the rural areas and along the old road to Bintangor, keep a look out for old houses that have converted to homes for swiftlets. The suburban cinema, Tai Kwong 大光 , is now a swiftlet house! Ta Kwong cinema started in 1972 in a wooden hall with rattan chairs. It has been reduced to a sorry state from its glory days of offering entertainment in the rural areas from 1979 in a  new concrete building to 1986 (owned by a Mr Lau). Tai Kwong coffeeshop operated on the left and a nameless tailor shop on the right. A sundry shop operated there in the 1990s.

Can you imagine the swiftlets having the best seats in the cinema now? Excuse me, birds, where are your tickets?


Daniel Yiek said...

Probably you have noticed that the blog interface has changed. I have upgraded to the new Blogger template from the "classic" template. Benefits:

a) now you can view with the freeware Mozilla Firefox browser. Not just Internet Explorer.

b) Easier for me to add future features from Blogger without spending too much time figuring out the complex html codes.

c) Labels have been added to the sidebar for easy search of your fav topics.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks to blogger, Fred, who made the nice "Sarikei Time Capsule" pineapple photo at the sidebar. :)

Thanks to ST who found the Ta Kwong cinema pic. Now people just zoom past without bothering to stop anymore for a pic of the grand old dame.

Would be nice to have a pic of Ta Kwong when it was operating as a cinema. Pls dig your photo albums.

I found some very old 1950-60s pics from my family album of a flooded downtown (showing shop fronts) but I'm not sure it's Sarikei. Let me check with my older friends & family. I recall Sarikei used to have floods but the pics show people on sampans!

Sim Y said...

Improvement on webpage. That's good Daniel.

Some how I still like the word 'Comments' instead of 'Kopitiam Chat'.

Fredy said...

yes... finally Firefox friendly...

great job..

Tangy said...

Emmm, Tai Kwong - spent a lot of time there as a kid. Watched many movies like Kung Fu show (Acted by Wang Wu), then progress on to Taiwanese love movies (Lins and Qings)...Tickets was 50 cents then for the front row, I remembered the rattan chairs; the best seats were RM1.1-1.30.

We ran round the place pretty much. A teacher from Su Kwong Pri Sch wrote in colourful paints all the show time and movie title in the office. The small canteen/shop was the source of newspaper reading those days....Later there was a bike repair shop....Unfotunately the cinema biz could not carry on....due to TV??

Philip said...

Yes, Sarikei used to be flooded when rain was heavy.

leetiungping 李忠平 said...

I hope all of us can put more afford to develop the Sarikei Swiftlet industry. This is a good prospect industry. As I know, when compare wth West Malaysia, our Sarawak cost (to built a bird house) still consider cheap and the changes to success is very high b'coz Sarikei is nearby the river and surround by jungle.

leetiungping 李忠平 said...

As I know a lot Sarikei 1st generation Swiftlet investor already generate more than 5 figure income.So,每个游子不要输他们吧!我们也可以尽一份力量来发展我们的家乡。--在外地赚钱,然后带回来Sarikei发展。(Sesiapa yg sedang cari $$ dekat tempat lain, bo simpan $ dan bawah balik Sarikei utk pembangunan Sarikei spt industry Swiftlet. )

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