A canopy for life
Faced with heavily altered landscapes and steadily shrinking habitats, more than ninety species of migratory birds have found a refuge on the shade trees of coffee farms. During the early fall (of the northern temperate zone), birds such as the Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla), Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), the lovely Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), raptors and others frequent the shade coffee farms in Oriente region.
Once in Guatemala, migratory birds survive on the diverse ecosystem found in coffee farms. Leguminous trees like "cuje." "cushín," and "chalum" (Inga spp.), the primary shade tree types used in Guatemala, are not only beneficial for coffee plants, but also for migratory birds that feed off the nectar from flowers or from the insects attracted to the flowers. Other species of shade trees, as well as associated plants like epiphytic bromeliads, orchids and ferns enhance the overall biodiversity of the coffee farms, providing refuge and resources for birds and other animals.
In addition to migratory birds, Oriente's mountain forests and coffee farms are home to more than a hundred resident species of birds, such as the Crescent Chested Wabler (Parula superciliosa), Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata), Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) and Common Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus ophthalmicus). A shaded coffee system, while unable to duplicate all the dynamics of a natural forest, can provide suprisingly high quality habitat for many of these birds.
In Oriente, shaded coffee farms form bridges between natural forests, joining these relict patches and providing supplemental habitat, where landscapes have been heavily altered by human intervention. Without these essential habitats, bird species would face greater challenges in finding areas for refuge, feeding and nesting.