- SongBird info sheet
Birds and coffee, what is the relationship?
Healthy bird populations are a good indicator of eco-system health.
Many of these poulations are currently in severe decline. We can all
effect positive change by exercising our power of choice as consumers.
The SongBird project promotes the practice of drinking ONLY shade
grown coffee. Where to find it:
Cafe Etico (ethical coffee)- Co-Development Canada - 604-708-1495
Canopy Bird Coffee - Saltspring Roasting Co. - 1-800-332-8858
Strait Coffee (Sechelt, B.C.) Allison Leduc - 604-885-9757
In addition, most certified organic coffees are shade-grown. Check
with the retailer or the source for confirmation.
This article is from EarthVision Reports:
WASHINGTON, January 18, 1999 - Your morning cup of java could be contributing
to the destruction of habitat for millions of birds, according to
a report from Russell Greenberg, a scientist with the Smithsonian
Institution. The Los Angeles Times reported that Greenberg spent several
years documenting the effects that the coffee plantations are having
on birds. The article said Greenberg studies migratory songbirds,
which he says are becoming rarer - because of the coffee growers.
He said the problem is a change in farming practices: coffee beans
traditionally are grown in shade, under a canopy of trees that protects
the plants and offers a sanctuary for more than 150 bird species.
However, according to Greenberg, farmers have begun cutting the trees
and using direct sunlight and chemicals to grow more beans at a faster
pace. Greenberg said that since many of the original forests are gone,
the trees are the only place left where the birds can hang out. The
LA Times article said part of the reason for increasing production
like this is that coffee companies racing to meet a rapidly-increasing
demand in the United States. The article also said that when the trees
are removed, the birds disappear - in some cases by as much as 97
Greenberg and his colleagues at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
are calling on Americans to save the birds by acting with their coffee
mugs. According to the LA Times, the scientists are promoting "shade-grown''
coffee beans, grown on traditional plantations that are more friendly
to fowl. However, the idea has not caught on with the larger national
coffee chains or food retailers. The campaign is reminiscent of the
dolphin-safe tuna campaign in recent years. If the same approach can
work with coffee, the Smithsonian scientists hope it will have a major
impact. According to the LA Times, it will probably work - the United
States consumes one-third of the world's coffee and ranks coffee beans
as its No. 3 import after oil and steel.
for more information look up the Smithsonian
Migratory Bird Centre.
SAVE TREES FOR MIGRATING SONGBIRDS
The Benefits of Shade Grown Coffee
Shade grown coffee benefits birds by preserving migratory bird habitats,
maintaining native tree canopy, supporting rainforest preservation,
cultivating necessary biodiversity, and protecting endangered bird
In the midst of a shrinking habitat, migratory birds have found sanctuary
in the forest environment of traditional shade grown coffee farms.
Biologists have found that shade coffee farms can support over 150
of birds. This is a far greater number than is found in other agricultural
habitats. In fact, it is exceeded only in the undisturbed tropical
rainforest. "Studies in Columbia and Mexico found 97% fewer bird
sun grown coffee than in shade grown coffee." (The Rainforest
The spread of "full sun" coffee varieties has turned coffee
serious despoilers of the natural environment. The new varieties require
massive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to compensate for their
of resistance to disease and pests, and support their shorter harvest
cycle. "Shaded coffee farms are often the last refuge for migratory
(The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) The technification of coffee
growing (conversion to full sun plantations) is the result of the
relentless push of agribusiness to increase total crop output. Larger
landowners are able to convert, native tree canopies
are removed, and smaller farmers are often driven out by the costs
chemical input and year around labor. Shade grown coffee benefits
preserving the ecology of our planet for future generations, creating
healthier farms for growers and their families, promoting organic
methods and reducing the need for pesticides and herbicides, producing
term economic benefits for
coffee farmers, and nurturing migratory birds for the enjoyment of
(from Audubon House, U.S.A.)