May 2, 2001
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291
What do wild birds and coffee have in common? They both thrive in tropical, shady habitat where the forest cover is diverse and plentiful.
In many neo-tropical areas where the best shade-grown coffee is nurtured, the coffee farms offer the only forest habitat remaining. But because of a worldwide increase in the demand for coffee, many traditional coffee farms have clear-cut the natural tropical foliage and converted to high-yield, sun-tolerant locations. When the forest canopy disappears, so do the migratory and resident birds. Sun-grown coffee provides increased short-term output to meet market demand, but it also leads to loss of birds and wildlife, causes erosion that damages the soil, fills streams and rivers with run-off chemicals and silt, and requires higher levels of fertilization.
"If you enjoy watching and listening to the birds in the wild, around town, or in your yard, do something to help," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "People have destroyed so much habitat, both here in the states and abroad, that we all need to do what we can to help neo-tropical birds survive."
Almost 350 species of migratory birds, such as the indigo bunting, the scarlet tanager, the ruby-throated hummingbird, and the northern oriole, migrate annually between nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Ways to help birds:
- Create backyard habitat. Provide natural bird food in your yard by planting native plants that bear small berries or attract insects. Plant shrubs and evergreen trees as bird shelters, especially in the winter. Fill a birdbath or a small pool with water. Make a nesting site for cavity-nesting birds by supplying a birdhouse.
- Keep your cat indoors whenever possible and locate bird feeders and bird baths away from heavy cover so that cats will not surprise unsuspecting birds.
- Try alternatives to using pesticides. Use naturally pest and disease resistant native plants and annually rotate vegetables in your garden. Drain away any standing water in the yard. Elevate stacks of wood off the ground and move them away from your house. If required, use low-impact pesticides specific to your needs.
- Join a National Wildlife Refuge Friends group, or other volunteer or conservation groups, or a garden club.
- Buy a duck stamp. A Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is required for all migratory bird hunters, but it is also popular with stamp collectors, art enthusiasts, and people who enjoy wildlife. Of every dollar raised from duck stamp sales 98 cents goes to buy wetland habitat. They are $15 at post offices, National Wildlife Refuges, and sporting goods stores.
Does shade-grown coffee taste better than sun-grown? Visit a U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge
, Fish Hatchery
, or Ecological Services
field office for a taste. For more information about International Migratory Bird Day
activities on or before May 12, please contact your nearest Service facility or visit the website http://birds.fws.gov/imbd.html
Here is a sampling of Service activities in the Southeast:
- Boynton Beach, Fla. -- Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Refuge -- May 12, 7: a.m. to noon: Bird walks, bird call demonstrations, bird watching class, live birds of prey presentations, children's bird craft activities, free copies of the 2001 International Migratory Bird Day poster featuring Terry Issac's shade coffee plantation drawing. For more information, visit: http://Loxahatchee.fws.gov.
- Apalachicola, Fla. -- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge -- May 10-12, Open House and Tours. The refuge is located on a 12,490-acre barrier island and boat access is necessary. Call (850) 653-8808 or e-mail reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Paris, Tenn. -- Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge -- Sat., May 12. "Birds and Breakfast" : Enjoy samples of shade-grown coffee, muffins or sweet rolls, free posters, bird lists, door prizes and a bird walk. Call (901) 642-2091 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Columbia, N.C. -- Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge -- Sat., May 12. Taste shade-grown coffee, get free posters and fact sheets. Call (252) 796-3004 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Swan Quarter, N.C. -- the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge -- May 7-11. Taste shade-grown coffee and enjoy a bird conservation discussion. Call (252) 926-4021 or e-mail refuge manager: John_Stanton@fws.gov.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.