Edible-nest swiftlets are small insectivorous birds from the swift family Apodidae. Weighing in at a mere 8·7–14·8 grams and measuring in at 11·5–12·5 cm in length, this species is known to be an excellent flyer and can spend the long periods foraging in the sky without rest (HBW). Edible-nest swiftlets may be observed over a wide variety of habitats (even far out at sea) and are widespread throughout South-east Asia today. This bird is well known (and studied) in the region due to its nest being widely collected or farmed as a delicacy known as bird’s nest soup or ‘燕窝’ in Chinese.
A medium sized swiftlet with glossy dark brown upperparts. Rump tends to appear paler grey, but variable and can appear uniform. Brown-grey underparts except almost black undertail coverts, significantly forked tail. Naked or lightly feathered tarsi.
Virtually indistinguishable in flight from slightly larger Black-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus) in flight, unless seen exceedingly well enough to pick out the slight (1-2 cm) difference in size, square-ish tail with shallow or no notch, and bulkier head and body of the Black-nest Swiftlet. In hand, identification is possible as Black-nest Swiftlet has extensive black feathering on tarsi. Appears to be indistinguishable from potential migrant Himalayan Swiftlet (Aerodramus brevirostris).
Edible-nest Swiftlet in flight. (Photo: Lim Hong Yao, 2017)