Warblers Aid Coffee Farmers

Posted by Desiree Narango on February 11, 2014

small yellow bird on forest floor with grub in its beak
small black and white striped bird on tree trunk holding a moth in its beak
small olive-backed bird on branch in coffee shrub
From top to bottom: hooded warbler, black-and-white warbler, and chestnut-sided warbler.

In an ongoing study in Nicaragua, researchers are looking into the role birds play in controlling insect pests on coffee farms. It is a win-win, the coffee farmer gets a free pest extermination service and the birds get food and shelter.

One study site, where the pictures to the right were taken, is a small cooperative close to San Ramon in a community called La Pita. Many different kinds of warblers migrate from North America to coffee farms in Central America to overwinter.

Each warbler has its own niche so it does not spend all its time competing with other warblers for food. In the top photo, a hooded warbler has caught a grub near the ground. Hooded warblers often forage near the ground.

The middle photo shows a black-and-white warbler catching a moth. These warblers are somewhat similar to woodpeckers or nuthatches in that they clamber around tree trunks and large branches looking for tasty morsels.

The bottom photo has a chestnut-sided warbler looking for insects in a coffee shrub. Chestnut-sideds frequent small trees and shrubs in their search for food. Since coffee grows on shrubs, the chestnut-sided warbler often forages there.

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