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Coffee connects Cache Valley and tropical migratory bird habitat

A small red, yellow, and black bird sits on a shaded tree branch.

This Saturday, May 14th is World Migratory Bird Day, a global holiday that happens twice a year, celebrating migratory birds and highlighting bird conservation across the globe. Not all birds migrate, but Hilary Shughart, president of the Bridgerland Audubon, explained that the species that do often make incredible journeys.

“It's the second Saturday in May and in October because birds migrate both ways. They come up north to feast on insects and nectar and whatnot and raise their families in the summer and then they head back south to avoid our winters, some of them many thousands of miles,” Shughart said.

Many migratory species rely on high quality habitat like the natural areas that dot Cache Valley to refuel on their long journeys, but the valley has another surprising connection to migratory birds: coffee.

Edie DeVilbiss is the coffee trainer and educator at Caffe Ibis, a coffee roastery headquartered in Logan. She said migratory birds are declining dramatically across North America, and unfortunately, some of those declines can be attributed to unsustainable coffee production in winter migratory bird habitat.

“Since the 1970s, researchers have documented almost 30% loss in bird populations just in North America. And they were trying to figure out what was going on, and they were looking to some of these areas where these birds were migrating, and realizing that a lot of it could be attributed to coffee production,” DeVilbiss said.

Luckily, an easy way to help migratory birds is to buy bird-friendly certified coffee beans. Caffe Ibis was an early adopter of bird-certified coffee, and DeVilbiss explained what bird-friendly means.

“The criteria covers a wide range of things that's very specific, including, you know, canopy height, insect biodiversity, all with the goal of maintaining a much more rich habitat for all the wildlife that take refuge on coffee farms,” DeVilbiss said. “But, with kind of the specific hope of helping migratory bird populations.”

On Saturday, May 14th, Bridgerland Audubon will be leading a bilingual bird walk at Trapper Park and hosting a Cache Valley Gardener’s Market booth with free crafts, and Caffe Ibis will be offering free coffee tastings at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival and coffee discounts online.

This year’s World Migratory Bird Day theme is “Dim the Lights for Birds at Night”, to spread awareness about how urban lighting can impact bird migration.

More information about World Migratory Bird Day, this year’s theme, and real-time bird migration available at:

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.