Summer Tanager in Honduran Coffee Farm

Posted by Robert Rice on January 31, 2012

In January, 2012, Robert Rice was visiting a community in western Honduras with some coffee people from different roasteries and importers. The close-knit community, known as “Capucas,” produces excellent coffee on lands ranging 1200 to 1700 meters in elevation, many of which have a highly diverse shade cover acting as canopy to the coffee plants.

On one small holding, near the producer’s house, this summer tanager (Piranga rubra) was seen hanging out in and around the coffee managed by the producer and his family. Omar, the producer, reports that the same bird, often a pair of them, come to the farm each year. Given that migratory birds exhibit what is called “site fidelity”, that is, the tendency to return to the same place year after year, the farmer’s claim that he’s seeing the same bird or birds every year is likely correct.

Beside growing coffee, Omar also keeps honeybees (Apis mellifera) in 11 hives near his house. As with the honeybee in many parts of Latin America, his hives house the Africanized honeybee, the aggressive subspecies of A. mellifera. While this bee can deliver a sting that is quite painful, Omar says it doesn’t seem to affect the summer tanager, which he has seen eating the bees from time to time.

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