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Bird friendly coffee in Vancouver: here’s how you can support this environmentally-friendly practice

Shade-grown coffee protects migratory birds and their natural habitats from depletion.
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Swainson's Thrush.

The bird population in Canada and the United States has declined by nearly 30% since 1970.

Habitat loss driven by deforestation is a huge contributor to this staggering loss of about 3 billion migratory songbirds in North America. Coffee farming in Central and South America in particular is one of the main culprits, since most coffee plantations remove forests in order to grow coffee in the sun, thus destroying habitats and utilizing environmentally-harmful pesticides and fertilizers in the production process. 

A more eco-friendly way of coffee production involves growing coffee in the shade as opposed to in the open. This alternate method of shade-grown coffee production is referred to as bird friendly coffee, and it is supported by a certification program to further promote the protection of birds and their habitats.

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Developed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, the Bird Friendly certification program contains strict criteria for coffee growers to become bird-friendly certified. For instance, Bird Friendly farms must ensure that at least 85% of their farming area consists of a diverse forest environment that contains a mix of foliage cover, tree height, and biodiversity in order to create a quality habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Currently, Bird Friendly coffee growing is adopted by over 5,100 farmers in 11 countries responsible for growing 34 million pounds of coffee annually in the effort to conserve and protect migratory songbirds and wildlife and their habitats throughout Latin America and around the world. 

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Bird Friendly Coffee. Photo: Wild Birds Unlimited.

Here in B.C., Wild Birds Unlimited, Vancouver’s and North Vancouver’s local source for quality bird food and supplies, is leading the charge in introducing Bird Friendly coffee to the local coffee scene.

“Some bird populations in the Vancouver area migrate to the areas where coffee is grown,” says Mark Eburne, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. “By drinking and purchasing coffee, you can support farmers that have gone through the certification process to make their coffee plantations bird friendly.”

Wild Birds Unlimited has partnered with Birds & Beans Coffee to supply their coffee products in store. Dedicated to ensuring that every single bean is shade grown, Birds & Beans purchases their coffees from growers that are Bird Friendly, Organic, and Fair Trade certified.

To date, they are one of the few roasters in Canada to offer a 100% Bird Friendly certified line of whole bean coffee, which proudly features the various species of migratory birds positively impacted by the shade-grown coffee farming process on its blend labels. Whether you prefer drip or espresso, bold or mild, or caffeine or decaf, Wild Birds Unlimited offers a full range to suit your sip of choice.

Certified Bird Friendly, shade-grown coffee ensures that it comes from a source that is committed to protecting migratory birds and their habitats from disappearing. By choosing Bird Friendly coffee roasters and coffee beans with a Bird Friendly label on it, you can make an active effort to support shade-grown coffee farmers, care for the North American bird population, and be part of the solution for fighting climate change with every cup of Joe.

“If you drink coffee, why not choose a bird friendly coffee?” Eburne says. “Vancouver is such a nature-minded city, and this is another small thing we can do to have a direct impact on saving the songbirds both locally and globally.”

Visit vancouver.wbu.com and northvancouver.wbu.com for more information.