Salangaan Island - is not an island, but the piece of a peninsula, which belongs to the city of Quy Nhon. This piece of peninsula holds back huge waves and strong wind, which could threaten the city. The peninsula has rolling mountains and has several names like Yen island and Phuong Mai Peninsula. Every spring, when the weather is warm, the Salangaans gather here to make nests.
A salangaan is a cliff swallow.
Formerly Salangaan Island belonged to another village, but now it's assigned to Quy Nhon. The piece peninsula is blessed with some 30 caves. It's a beautiful, natural setting with thousands years old caves with spaces for hundreds meters high. But that's not the only thing. The special feature is the Salangaan (cliff swallow). These birds have been coming here for centuries to nest in the caves.
The edible bird's nests are very precious for the local population. They earn a lot money by selling those nests, because the nests of these Salanganes are processed in numerous dishes. Not only in Vietnam or China, but all over the world. The swallows make their nests of their own saliva high against the ceiling or side of the cave. Every day they separate a bit of saliva, of which they build their nest.
Birds nest against the cave
Each time the bird sticks a semi-circular stripe saliva and if it's dried, new stripes are being made on the inside of the nest. The edge always remains in focus and thickens inwards, in which (later on) 1, 2, 3 or 4 eggs will be laid in. Nevertheless, the birds' nests are very tiny, where Salangaans just are able to sit down to breed. In the high caves the local people build bamboo scaffolding, which sometimes consist of 300 bamboo trees. As they work toward the top of the cave.
It listens very closely to each other, because no accidents may happen. It is a dangerous and courageous action. The nests are closely interwoven into long chains. Long sticks with nails one tries to remove the nests down. In the dry climate, it is necessary to make the nests slightly softer by spraying the nests with water. That prevents breaking the nests.
Thanks to the awareness of the preservation and development of their economic source, the pickers must comply with a tight schedule. January and February are the months in which they nest. There is no activity. The first harvest is a month later. The second harvest is when the little Salangaans are flying out. The annual revenues are estimated at 700 kilos. The workers pluck some 14,000 to 15,000 nests per year. There is also a third harvest, but but it has a low yield.
Salangaan Island at a distance
There are many different types of nests. The red or pink ones are the most expensive and the most precious. The bird nests with the "ivory white ears" and bird nests with the "thin ears" have the worst quality.