Wild About Utah: Bird-Friendly Coffee Conserves Habitat
Since 1956, the Bridgerland Audubon Society has been documenting about one hundred bird species braving our northern Utah winters, but there’s an equally wonderful array of birds that spend their summers in Cache Valley. Come fall, some of our most colorful summer denizens migrate south to spend the winter months on Bird Friendly®, shade-grown coffee plantations in Latin America. These birds include the colorful yellow and orange Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock’s Orioles, the intensely blue Lazuli Buntings and our tiny Black-chinned Hummingbirds with their iridescent purple necklace that shines like a neon light. In total, 42 migratory songbird species have been documented as flying from North America to shade-grown coffee plantations south of the border, and Bird Friendly coffee is saving their habitat.
Our local Caffe Ibis website captures the importance of shade-grown coffee for migratory birds in featuring Bird Friendly coffee that “comes from family farms in Latin America that provide good, forest-like habitat for birds. Rather than being grown on farms that have been cleared of vegetation, Bird Friendly coffees are planted under a canopy of trees. These trees provide the shelter, food and homes that migratory and local birds need to survive and thrive.”
Shade-grown coffee is a mutually beneficial farming system for both migratory birds and coffee producers because the birds eat coffee insect pests and pollinate the flowers of the all-important shade trees. As a result, a single bird can provide the coffee producer with a much greater coffee harvest that amounts to up to 24 more pounds of coffee beans per acre each year. That increased yield means about 1,500 more cups of coffee provided by a single bird!
Certified Bird Friendly® coffee is a designation made by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC). The gold standard for ethical, sustainable, organic coffee, Bird Friendly certification ensures growers can maintain shade-grown coffee practices rather than giving in to the economic pressure to produce habitat-destroying, cheaper sun-grown coffee. Certification places value on the farmer and the habitat rather than on cheaper coffee. Because both sun-grown and shade-grown coffee farms span a large portion of important wintering bird habitat, you can provide economic support for farmers protecting important bird habitat by buying sustainable, Bird Friendly coffees.
Shade-grown coffee farms are good for birds, good for people, and good for the planet. So, for those who enjoy coffee, Bird Friendly coffee is all the more enjoyable because your selection is a positive conservation action. As you sip your Bird-Friendly certified coffee, marvel at the fact that a hummingbird egg is about the size of a single coffee bean!
I’m Hilary Shughart, President of the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I am Wild About Utah!
This segment concludes with a shout out to Caffe Ibis Coffee Maven Emerita Sally Sears, and another shout out to Lesa Wilson, who now carries the torch for Caffe Ibis, a community leader in sustainability that provides environmentally sound and ethically sourced coffee.