Bird Bonanza

Philip Blenkinsop / NOOR for TIME

For the birds
A view of nest-rich Thai islands from a forestry guard post

Ultrasonic humidifier? Check. Swiftlet Bazooka Tweeter? Check. Feces powder? Er, check. All you need now is a multistory house with no doors or windows but plenty of holes, and you're almost ready to join one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing cottage industries: harvesting edible birds' nests.

You'll also need birds, of course — lots of them. That's the tricky part.

Edible birds' nests are the handiwork of the swiftlet, a small bird found mostly in...

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