Bird nest soap is a famous Chinese health cuisine. It can improve one’s health, make one’s skin radiant and bright, strengthen lungs and prolong life.
There are grossly three types of bird nest namely white, black and red ones. The white one is made by a kind of swiftlet called Aerodramus fuciphagus whereas the black one by Aerodramus maximus. The red nest is made by Aerodrumus fuciphagus normally in caves. The red nest is said to be best quality as it can produce the best effects. Hence, red nest is sold at a premium price.
The myth about the red bird nest has been lingering in the Chinese community. Some say that the swiftlets mix their saliva with blood when making the nests; other says that due to frequent harvesting by the farmers, the swiftlets have to work too hard until they bleed at the throat during bird nest construction. The fact however, is that hardened blood is black in color.
According to the observation of experienced harvestors, the nests found near the entrance of the caves are white in color. Going deeper inside the cave, the nests are yellow in color and near the deepest end a golden red color.
The coloration of genuine yellow and red bird nest is due to interaction of the nest with the cave wall and absorption of the natural minerals found in the wall. A red nest with uniform yellow and red color is rarely found because only one side of the nest is in contact with the cave wall. It could be due to the swiftlets feed on red algae. In such a case the color of the nest is grayish pink instead of simply yellow or red.
There is another rumor namely the red nest is made by the house swiftlets. This is totally untrue as the house swiftlets only feed on insects and not algae. Only cave swiftlets make a red nest. Whether it makes the nest for the first time or numerous times, it produces only one type of bird nest namely white one. The rumor may be spread by the unscrupulous businessmen who adulterated color into the white nest or make the white nest becomes red one by fumigation.
In conclusion, one must be careful in choosing red nests as the natural one may bring benefits while the fake one may cause harm to one’s health.