Man vs nature: Manmade nests in Sanya bring hope for swiftlets
On June 12th, 2019, five wild swiftlets were spotted inhabiting the artificial nest house at Luhuitou Park in Sanya. The sighting was a promising sign for an innovative plan to aid this endangered species in its struggle for survival on the tropical island.
The artificial nest house, covering an area of 100 square meters, is located on a hillside at Luhuitou Park. The structure is part of a trial project aimed at restoring the populations of swiftlets along the southwest coast of Sanya. The program was jointly launched by the China Agricultural University, Dazhou Island Swiftlets Research Institute of Hainan Province, and Sanya Luhuitou Tourism Co., Ltd. The program started from February 2018 and will last till February 2020.
Mr. Lin Bin, Director of the Dazhou Island Swiftlets Research Institute of Hainan Province, explained that the facility plays recorded birdsong to attract swiftlets to nest in the house. Recent monitoring shows that the birds are accepting the nests and personalizing them with mud and vegetation.
The swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus) has been rated a national Class II protected species. Its nest is made of solidified saliva and is used to make bird’s nest soup.
The earliest written record of this edible bird’s nest and its production in China was in the southwest coast of Sanya including the East Islet and West Islet. The edible nests are made up of the bird’s saliva which contains several nutrients that can help soothe coughing and improve the people’s immune system.
“The presence of the wild swiftlets at Luhuitou Park shows that the ecological environment in Sanya is getting better, becoming suitable for the survival of various forms of wildlife. This will help increase biodiversity in the region.” Lin Bin added that the swiftlets feed heavily on flying insects. An adult swiftlet can catch 7,000 flying insects a day, which is of great ecological significance for reducing the use of pesticides and protecting the local environment.