Birds of Coffee Farms in Chiapas, Mexico

January 1, 1997 by Gregory Gough

Shade coffee plantations in Chiapas, Mexico support an impressive variety of birds, particularly migratory birds. Only acacia cattle pastures supported more migratory species in the area.

small green and white bird

The shade element of the coffee plantations occurs as either a remnant of the original forest, overtopping the coffee shrubs, or as a planted canopy dominated by trees in the genus Inga. The type of shade does not seem to matter to the birds. Both types are comparable to natural forests in the area and only moist tropical forests harbor more birds.

The dry season, February to May, encourages birds to move into shade coffee plantations. Fruiting and flowering trees are common in the plantations and provide berries and nectar to a wide variety of birds, particularly Tennessee warblers (pictured above) and Baltimore orioles.

With much of the natural forest in the area gone, shade coffee plantations provide an important sanctuary for birds.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Greenberg, Russell S., Bichier, Peter and Sterling, J. 1997. Bird populations in planted and rustic shade coffee plantations in Chiapas, Mexico. Biotropica, 29: 501-514.

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