/swift"lit/, n.
any of several swifts of the genus Collocalia, of southeastern Asia, the East Indies, and Australia, certain species of which use saliva to construct nests, which are used in making bird's-nest soup.
[1890-95; SWIFT + -LET]

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 (genus Collocalia), any of numerous species of cave-dwelling birds belonging to the swift family, Apodidae, found from southeastern Asia (India and Sri Lanka) and the Malay Peninsula through the Philippines, and eastward to the islands of the South Pacific.

      The taxonomy of the 15 to 20 nearly identical species is controversial. Dull brown or gray above (sometimes glossed with blue or green) and paler on the rump and underparts, swiftlets are 9 to 15 cm (3.5 to 6 inches) long. They fly lower, more erratically, and more slowly than most swifts.

      The swiftlet is remarkable on two counts: the nest, made chiefly or entirely of saliva, is the basis of bird's-nest soup; and, with the oilbird (q.v.), certain swiftlets are the only birds known to use echolocation to find their way around dark caverns, as do bats. The swiftlet's “sonar” consists of clicking sounds at frequencies of 1,500 to 5,500 hertz—audible to the human ear. They are emitted at the rate of about six per second. The nest is a small bracket, sometimes containing bits of fern or bark, that may be glued to a tree or cliff but usually is made in a mountain or coastal cave. A single colony may contain a million birds.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Swiftlet — Swift let, n. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of small East Indian and Asiatic swifts of the genus {Collocalia}. Some of the species are noted for furnishing the edible bird s nest. See Illust. under {Edible}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Swiftlet — Swiftlets Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1) Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • swiftlet — /ˈswɪftlət/ (say swiftluht) noun any of various small swifts of the genus Collocalia, as the white rumped swiftlet, C. spodiopygius, of north eastern Australia and south western Pacific islands. {swift + let} …  

  • swiftlet — salanganos statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Collocalia angl. swiftlet vok. Salangane, f rus. салангана, f pranc. salangane, f ryšiai: platesnis terminas – salanganos siauresnis terminas – baltapilvė salangana siauresnis… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • swiftlet — noun Date: circa 1890 any of various cave dwelling swifts (genus Collocalia syn. Aerodramus) of Asia including one (C. fuciphaga) that produces the nest used in bird s nest soup …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • swiftlet — noun Any of various tropical and subtropical birds of the four genera Aerodramus, Hydrochous, Schoutedenapus, and Collocalia in the swift family, many of which can navigate in darkness using echolocation …   Wiktionary

  • swiftlet — noun a small swift found in South Asia and Australasia. [Genera Aerodramus and Collocalia.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • swiftlet — swift·let …   English syllables

  • swiftlet — swift•let [[t]ˈswɪft lɪt[/t]] n. orn any swift of the genus Collocalia, of SE Asia, Indonesia, and Australia, certain species of which use saliva to construct nests, which are used in making bird s nest soup • Etymology: 1890–95 …   From formal English to slang

  • swiftlet — n. a small swift of the genus Collocalia …   Useful english dictionary

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