As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Birds protect Costa Rica's coffee crop

The yellow warbler may not pull a perfect latte, but it turns out it's a friend to coffee drinkers all the same. Research in Costa Rica shows that hungry warblers and other birds significantly reduce damage by a devastating coffee pest, the coffee berry borer beetle.

A study found that insectivorous birds cut infestations by the beetle Hypothenemus hampeiby about half, saving a medium-sized coffee farm up to US$9,400 over a year’s harvest — roughly equal to Costa Rica’s average per-capita income. The results, published in Ecology Letters1, not only offer hope to farmers battling the beetle, but also provide an incentive to protect wildlife habitat: the more forest grew on and near a coffee farm, the more birds the farm had, and the lower its infestation rates were.

“Based on this study, we know that native wildlife can provide you with a pretty significant benefit,” says Daniel Karp, a conservation biologist at Stanford University in California, who led the study. “Incorporating their conservation into your management of pests is absolutely something you should do.”

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