BBC Wildlife
Perfect Blend Image Credit: BBC Wildlife
Perfect Blend Image Credit: BBC Wildlife

Perfect Blend

Rather than clearing Colombian forests to make way for co ee plantations, merging the two could bene t migratory birds.

James Lowen

Juan Pablo Echeverri hands mean espresso. “The coffee was cultivated and brewed right here,” he says. We’re at Hacienda Venecia, Juan Pablo’s family-run farm in Colombia’s Andean highlands. Inhaling the roast’s heady scent, I glance towards some tall, native trees. Binoculars raised, my vision suddenly fizzes with feather – a rainbow of birds nibbling fruit or gleaning insects. A sun-yellow flash announces a Canada warbler – an adult male judging by its ostentatious necklace and studious spectacles. The flock swirls onwards.

As I prioritise café solo over optics, I wonder whether growing coffee plants under the shade of rainforest trees might just stave off this migratory bird’s slump towards extinction.

The weight of an AAA battery, la reinita de Canada (Canada’s little queen) flies about 6,000km to spend seven months amid South American mountains before returning to North America to breed. Calamitous deforestation on its Andean wintering quarters is thought responsible for a 75 per cent population decline across four decades. Concern for the Canada warbler’s plight has galvanised “a multinational collaboration to co-ordinate recovery efforts,” says Diana Eusse of Colombian wildlife charity Asociación Calidris. Joining forces with ProColombia (the national tourist board), Bird Studies Canada and BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme, Calidris is fighting to save migratory and resident species alike in the context of a 90 per cent reduction in Andean forest.

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