We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Uses of Bird Saliva?

By Andrea Cross
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Very few people associate birds with having saliva. At the very least, few people associate bird saliva as having different uses; however, it does have applications outside of the bird's own mouth. Bird saliva can be used as a nest-building tool, a culinary ingredient, and a component of traditional medicine.

Some species of birds, including swifts and hummingbirds, use their saliva in the building of their nests. The swift, for example, projects a large amount of saliva against a surface, such as a tree trunk, providing an anchor for the nest. They then build up the nest in continuing layers of bird saliva along with the odd inclusion of objects such as feathers, twigs, and other plant material. The resulting nest is a fairly smooth, deep, bowl shape. Saliva is an ideal building component as it is thick and dries quickly.

Bird saliva also forms the base of a traditional Chinese delicacy, swallow's nest soup. The nests used in this very expensive dish are produced by male swiftlets, found mainly in China and Thailand. This dish is considered very prestigious and so is highly sought after. To keep up with demand, a number of nesting sites are man-made.

The most prized ingredient for this delicacy are the white nests produced by the Edible-nest and Pacific swiftlets. These are subsequently graded into levels of quality, with the highest being those nests collected first in the harvesting season before the chicks are hatched. Nests are cleaned after grading to remove any extraneous material.

The nests are composed almost exclusively of bird saliva. To make the soup, cooks soak the nests in water, causing them to swell and soften. This allows any embedded material to be removed. They then place the nests in a pot and cover them with water. After approximately 15 minutes of simmering, rock sugar goes into the pot. Cooks simmer this mixture for a further hour before serving.

The resulting soup is thick and gelatinous, with the majority of the nest having dissolved. Bird saliva soup is very popular in America and Hong Kong, who are the biggest importers of the nests. Eating the soup is thought to increase the libido and sharpen mental focus. The benefits from eating it are thought to be so important that no seasoning should be added.

Bird saliva is thought to have additional health benefits, and nests are popularly used in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine. It is considered to be an excellent restorative for the lungs and is used to alleviate asthma and other respiratory disturbances. The nests, which contain calcium, zinc, and iron, are also thought to encourage growth and improve the circulation of the blood. Finally, the saliva has also long been used as an antiaging tonic and immune system enhancer, improving general health and helping to prevent colds and the flu.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Animandel — On Mar 04, 2014

Don't judge me, but I have eaten jelly made from the bird saliva. I like to try the local foods when I visit a country. In one town on my trip through Asia, I sampled the jelly. If no one had told me how it was prepared, I would not have known it was different from the regular jellies I eat.

I also had an opportunity to try the bird's nest soup, but I refused to pay that much for a bowl of soup, so I'm not sure whether it's worth the price or not.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 03, 2014

Not only are the bird nests mentioned in the article highly sought after, they are also expensive. I read that the nests commonly sell for more than a couple thousand U.S. dollars per kilogram. Eating bird saliva does not sound appetizing, but think of all the other less than appetizing foods we eat.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.