Shade Grown Coffee is for the Birds

Shade Grown Coffee is for the Birds

Panama is one of the most bio-diverse areas on the entire planet. With more bird species than most other countries on Earth, and a host of other wildlife like mammals and insects, Panama’s landscapes are teeming with life, even if you don’t always see it.

While spotting a monkey or a sloth in its native habitat is always a thrilling sight, Panama’s birds are one of the main factors in this country’s biodiversity. From the tiniest of hummingbirds to large and awkward turkey vultures, one can expect to encounter an array of colorful, unique, and downright strange avian creatures in almost every corner of the country. In fact, Panama is home to nearly 10% of the world’s bird species.

Birds are particularly sensitive to the intrusion of humans into their territory, and the removal of native forest for sun grown coffee estates has been shown to contribute to bird loss in the area. As a shade grown coffee estate, Finca Deborah’s Panama Geisha is produced in a way that works with nature instead of against it, and this includes harmonizing with the wildlife that calls our land home.

Natural Pest Control

While the altitude of Finca Deborah contributes a great deal to the reduction in pests, the many types of birds that live here do more to control pests than any insecticide would, and they do it better. The birds are most active at dawn and dusk, and we’ll see them flitting from coffee tree to coffee tree, eating pests along the way.

Most bird species are very territorial, and this contributes greatly to the overall level of pest control. Some of our bird species remain at Finca Deborah all year, while others are migratory and arrive from the United States and Canada during the winter months. The various species will maintain their traditional territories within Finca Deborah’s boundaries, and these include various songbirds, hummingbirds, and larger species like raptors and vultures. Each one has its role, and they all serve to reduce the pest level on the coffee trees and throughout the area.

Natural Pollination of Finca Deborah Geisha

Insects are exceptional pollinators, but birds play a larger role in this process than many people are aware of. Hummingbirds are particularly well suited to this task, and Finca Deborah boasts large colonies of these tiny workers. In fact, it’s not unusual to see a hummingbird with its face and beak coated with pollen after it has made its visits to the various flowers.

Other species of bird act as pollinators as well. Honeycreepers are larger than hummingbirds and have specially curved beaks that are perfectly designed to gather nectar from flowers, pollinating in the process. As songbirds flit around the coffee trees in search of insect prey, they will inadvertently collect pollen on their legs and feathers. When they move to another tree for more tasty insect treats they will brush against the flowers, depositing the pollen as they forage.

These pollinators increase the yield of each coffee tree, not only through pollination but also due to the fact that they feed on insects in the process.

Maintenance of the Entire Ecosystem

Organizations like the Smithsonian Institute have done extensive studies on the effect of shade grown coffee on the surrounding ecosystem, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Their research indicates that with an increased bird population comes an increase in the health and abundance of native plants and trees, which provide fruit and other resources for both man and animal.

Allowing native plants to remain on a shade grown coffee farm benefits the biodiversity of the region, and birds are a crucial part of this equation. As native trees and plants are cleared or removed to make space for coffee trees, the bird populations decline. This results in a greater number of pests, greater soil loss, and the increased need for chemical fertilizer and insecticide.

By creating an environment that is conducive to both Finca Deborah’s Panama Geisha and the native plants and animals, we’re not only able to grow a superior product, but by working with nature instead of against it, we have also maintained the integrity of the diverse ecosystem of the region. This aligns perfectly with Finca Deborah’s commitment to our customers and to the area that we call home.

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