Notas de Café
How Colombia hosts special visitors from the north, and how they return the favor.

Every year, three charming species of birds arrive at Colombian plantations directly from North America. These Canadian, Cerúlea and Orange-throated warblers (Reinatas in Spanish) travel over 4,000 miles, fleeing the harshness of winter.

The coffee region welcomes these birds during their five to six month stay, enough time for them to recoup from their long voyage, molt, recharge and return home.

More than 200 bird species visit Colombia, of which more than thirty have been recorded in the coffee zone by the National Research Center for Coffee (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café, Cenicafé). The three warbler species have become the image of the conservation coffee edition for Juan Valdez® Café, and are even more evident in the hard, silent work of the coffee growers who--under the aegis of Cenicafé--create a welcoming environment for the birds.

In this manner, from mid-September to April, the Canadian, Cerúlea and Orange-throated warblers decorate the region with their yellow, grey, orange and blue colors. They travel through the forests capturing any insects daring to cross their path. These small birds play an important role in the ecosystem. According to Rocío Espinoa, a research assistant at Cenicafé, these species may be helping to reduce crop infestations. For example, studies done in Costa Rica have shown that the presence of these insect-eating birds like the warblers can reduce the crop infestations by 50%.

The personal assistants of the warblers.

In order to conserve migratory species, continent-wide efforts are required, and Colombian coffee growers play a major role. In many regions, old and young have committed themselves to caring for the birds, and working to ensure they have a safe environment.

“Conservation coffee has been wonderful, and a great opportunity to highlight the research which has been done over so many years, regarding the importance of the coffee zone, and above all, the actions of the coffee growers," says Espinosa.

Over the years, bird-related projects have been developed, such as “participatory census of birds” and “building a conservation corridor in the coffee zone,” where the coffee growers study the bird life of their regions. Today, bird watching is a popular family outing.

Other ways Colombian coffee growers help the birds is by planting native species in their gardens, changing traditional fences for bright fences, planting trees on the edges of ravines and--wherever possible--providing shade on the plantation. The objective is the same: offer the birds an adequate home to recuperate and to successfully prepare for their long return trip to North America.


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