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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

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CURWOOD: Staring groggily into your morning cup of coffee, the last thing you're probably thinking about are migratory birds. But on Saturday, May 12, birds and bees will have something in common. It's International Migratory Bird Day, and this year's theme is all about the way coffee production affects bird populations. You see, coffee is second only to petroleum as the world's most valuable export. Coffee shrubs are usually grown under a covering of shade trees that double as home to an array of migratory birds that head for the tropics during winter. But since the 1970s, coffee growers have turned to high-yield sun-resistant types of beans. Now, that may mean more coffee for you and me, but fewer spots to roost for the birds, and their numbers have been steadily dropping. One answer: In Indonesia, which is the world's third-largest producer of coffee, the shade trees are coming back. That's good news for, who else, the java birds. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

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