Research: Nesting birds in shade coffee

by JulieCraves on November 22, 2006

Gleffe, J.D., J. A. Collazo, M. J. Groom, and L. Miranda-Castro.  2006.  Avian reproduction and the conservation value of shaded coffee plantations.  Ornitologia Neotropical 17: 271-282.

Most of the research on birds and coffee farms focuses on migrant birds which breed in North America and winter in the tropics.  This is the first study to examine the nesting success of resident birds in shade coffee plantations compared to secondary forest.  The study took place in north-central Puerto Rico, and the shade coffee farms were in the Ciales area (map).

The majority of bird nests (72%) were found in shade coffee, and 26 species were recorded in coffee, versus 22 in secondary forest. Six species were found only in coffee, two only in forest.

Thirty-two different plant species were used as nest sites in coffee, with the two most common plants used for nesting Inga vera and Andira inermis.  Coffee trees themselves were host to 26% of the nests, many of which were of the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), shown here at right. However, it was the canopy trees that were the most important and harbored most of the bird species in both the coffee and forest habitats. The stunning Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis), an endemic species, is one example of a bird that needs mature canopy trees for nesting. These canopy trees, of course, would not be present in sun coffee plantations, and the authors emphasize that it is the value of shade coffee plantations for preserving birds depends on the shade canopy layer, not the coffee itself.

The study also looked at reproductive success, and discovered that it was similar between coffee and forest, an important finding.  The authors suggest restoration of native shade canopy in existing and new coffee farms to conserve avian diversity in Puerto Rico.  This is especially important because Puerto Rico is experiencing both deforestation due to urban sprawl and development, and the majority of coffee grown there (59%) is sun coffee, with more being converted.  Consumers should choose their Puerto Rican coffee very carefully.  One source I found from the area where the study took place was Finca Cialitos (web site in Spanish, store in English).

Revised on July 8, 2021

Posted in Birds and other biodiversity,Research on coffee growing

James January 13, 2007 at 3:13 pm


I run a site called and wondered if you would
like to exchange bird watching links? I've already linked to your
site, and if you would like to return the favor, my blog info is:

Title: Birdwatching Blog

Thank you in advance for your consideration. :)


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: