Cast your mind back to the spring of 2020, when grocery store shelves sat bare of essential items and ingredients. For birds who live in the forests of Central America, replacement of forest land with coffee plantations essentially “clears out the shelves” of their preferred foods, causing them to shift their diets and habitats to survive.
A new study led by researchers at the University of Utah explores a record of birds’ diets preserved in their feathers and radio tracking of their movements to find that birds eat far fewer invertebrates in coffee plantations than in forests, suggesting that the disturbance of their ecosystem significantly impacts the birds’ dietary options.
“Growing human ecological impact on the planet, especially via habitat loss and degradation and climate change, often impacts bird diets negatively as well,” said Çağan H. Şekercioğlu, the study’s lead author and an ecology and ornithology professor in the U’s School of Biological Sciences. “These negative changes, including declines in key dietary resources like insects and other invertebrates can lead to reduced survival, especially of rapidly growing young, often leading to population declines and losses of these undernourished birds.”
If you’re a coffee drinker, you can help by choosing to buy bird-friendly coffee at your next "coffee klatch." According to Şekercioğlu, bird-friendly coffee is grown in plantations with more tree cover and forest remnants, which are beneficial for native birds.
Read the full story by Paul Gabrielsen in @TheU.
A Silver-throated Tanager
Photo by Çağan H. Şekercioğlu