Brushes

Paintbrush (Castilleja) Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
Paintbrush (Castilleja)
Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
Of all the lovely wildflowers to enjoy in Utah, indian paintbrush has to top my list. The nickname “prairie fire” is an accurate one, highlighting the variety of colors we find: reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purples, and sometimes a mixture of two. In Tomie dePaola’s children’s picture book “The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush,” Little Gopher discovers “brushes filled with paint, each one a color of the sunset.” The legend is a flashy tale celebrating this member of the figwort family and stories captured in rock art. Of course, our petroglyphs are fascinating, but I like to imagine how the pictographs adorning many of Utah’s “learning rock” sandstone walls may have been painted with brushes, fingers, and other tools many centuries ago.

Often, when we see indian paintbrush, whether we’re in Utah’s deserts up in elevation through subalpine meadows, we also see sagebrush. They are both native to Utah. In fact, some species of indian paintbrush are root-parasites for sagebrush, intertwining roots to access water and nutrients because they lack small hairs on their own.

Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus)
Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
The Utah State University fight song captures the love we have for the spots in Utah where sagebrush grows. To celebrate Aggie homecoming, my first grade class went out this week to explore describing adjectives of sagebrush compared to those for rabbitbrush, another brush native in Utah. One student wrote that rabbitbrush smells like strawberries and is bushy yellow. Another thought that it looks like a banana, smells sweet, and likes bees and rocks. Alternately, a student wrote that sagebrush is minty, soft, and “smells horrible.” We learned to recognize the sagebrush leaf three-toothed tridents and the magical way rubbing the leaves on paper both releases and traps that distinctive fragrance.

Mae Timbimboo Parry, once a recordkeeper of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone, sketched how to identify sagebrush in much the same way. In his appendix of “The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History,” Darren Parry shares his grandmother’s handwritten field notes about sagebrush, indicating its use in tea and purifying ceremonies. I was surprised at first that she did not include indian paintbrush in the list of plants until I realized that willow, wildrose, sego lily, and sunflower all had practical uses beyond their beauty. Some have said that the sagebrush is the backbone of the West, and I would add that indian paintbrush adds a splash of color.

Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Courtesy and Copyright © by Shannon Rhodes, photographer
Along with horsebrush, buckbrush, blackbrush, bitterbrush which is also known as antelopebrush, and rabbitbrush, indian paintbrush and sagebrush tell a Utah story as distinctive as that portrayed in the brushstrokes of the pictographs of this land.

I’m Shannon Rhodes, and I’m wild about Utah.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy & Copyright © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/
Text:     Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Alpine Nature Center. Is It Rabbitbrush or Is It Sagebrush? https://www.alpinenaturecenter.org/rabbit-vs-sage.html

de Paola, Tomie. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. 1988. https://www.tomie.com/https://www.audubon.org/news/celebrating-sagebrush-wests-most-important-native-plant

Johnson, Jeff. Head of Sinbad Pictographs in San Rafael Swell. https://thetrekplanner.com/head-of-sinbad-pictographs-san-rafael-swell-utah/

Larese-Casanova, Mark. Desert Plants Field Book. Utah Master Naturalist. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1911&context=wats_facpub

Mozdy, Michael. Bold Figures, Blurred History: The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon. October 2, 2016. https://nhmu.utah.edu/blog/2016/09/29/bold-figures-blurred-history-great-gallery-horseshoe-canyon

Miller, Pam, and Blaine Miller. Rock Art in Utah. https://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/r/ROCK_ART.shtml

Parry, Darren. The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History. https://heritageandarts.utah.gov/the-bear-river-massacre-a-shoshone-history-a-conversation-with-darren-parry/

Repandshek, Kurt. Traces of a Lost People. The Smithsonian Magazine. March 2005. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/traces-of-a-lost-people-84026156/

Scotter, Troy, and Nina Bowen. The Rock Art of Utah. Utah Rock Art Research Association. May 13, 2020. https://urara.wildapricot.org/page-18203

Strand, Holly. Woody Plants of Utah. Wild About Utah, December 15, 2011. https://wildaboututah.org/tag/rabbitbrush/

Strand, Holly. Sagebrush. Wild About Utah, January 14, 2009. https://wildaboututah.org/sagebrush/

Susec, David. The Barrier Canyon Rock Art Style. The B.C.S. Project. http://www.bcsproject.org/barrierstyle.html

U.S. National Park Service. Seeing Rock Markings in a Whole New Way. https://www.nps.gov/articles/cany-rock-markings-photo.htm

Wampler, Fred. Paintbrush and Sagebrush. University of Mary Washington Gallery. http://www.umwgalleries.org/paintbrush-and-sagebrush/

Young, Lauren. Saving the American West’s Sagebrush Sea. May 19, 2001. https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/saving-sagebrush/

Bird-Friendly Coffee Conserves Habitat & Brings Colorful Annual Songbirds to Your Cache Valley Summer Garden!

Bird-Friendly Coffee: Black-chinned Hummingbird <i>Archilochus alexandri</i> Courtesy US FWS, Alan Schmierer, Photographer
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Archilochus alexandri
Courtesy US FWS, Alan Schmierer, Photographer
Since 1956 the Bridgerland Audubon Society has been documenting about one hundred bird species braving our northern Utah winters, but there’s an equally wonderful array of birds that spend their summers in Cache Valley. Come fall, some of our most colorful summer denizens migrate south to spend the winter months on bird-friendly shade-grown coffee plantations in Latin America. These birds include the colorful yellow and orange Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Bullock’s Orioles as well as the intensely blue Lazuli Buntings and our tiny Black-chinned Hummingbirds with their iridescent purple necklace that shines like a neon light. In total, 42 migratory songbird species have been documented as flying from North America to shade-grown coffee plantations south of the border, and Bird-Friendly coffee is saving their habitat.

Bird-Friendly Coffee: Roasted Coffee Beans Courtesy Pixabay, Couleur, Photographer
Roasted Coffee Beans
Courtesy Pixabay, Couleur, Photographer
Our local Caffe Ibis website captures the importance of shade-grown coffee for migratory birds in featuring Bird Friendly coffee that “comes from family farms in Latin America that provide good, forest-like habitat for birds. Rather than being grown on farms that have been cleared of vegetation, Bird Friendly coffees are planted under a canopy of trees. These trees provide the shelter, food and homes that migratory and local birds need to survive and thrive.”

Shade-grown coffee is a mutually beneficial farming system for both migratory birds and coffee producers because the birds eat coffee insect pests and they help pollinate the flowers of the all-important shade trees. As a result, a single bird can provide the coffee producer with a much greater coffee harvest that amounts to up to 24 more pounds of coffee beans per acre each year. That increased yield means about 1,500 more cups of coffee provided by a single bird!

Certified Bird Friendly® coffee is a designation made by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC). The gold standard for ethical, sustainable, organic coffee, this Bird Friendly certification helps ensure that growers can maintain shade-grown coffee practices rather than giving in to the economic pressure to produce habitat-destroying cheaper sun-grown coffee. Certification places value on the farmer and the habitat rather than on cheaper coffee. Because both sun-grown and shade-grown coffee farms span a large portion of important wintering bird habitat, you can help provide economic support for farmers protecting important bird habitat by buying sustainable “Bird Friendly” labeled coffees.

Shade-grown coffee farms are good for birds, good for people, and good for the planet. So, for those who enjoy coffee, bird-friendly coffee is all the more enjoyable because your selection is a positive conservation action. As you sip your Bird-Friendly certified coffee, just marvel at the fact that a hummingbird egg is about the size of a single coffee bean!

This segment concludes with a shout out to Caffe Ibis Coffee Maven Emerita Sally Sears, and another shout out to Lesa Wilson, who now carries the torch for Caffe Ibis, a community leader in sustainability that provides environmentally sound and ethically sourced coffee.

I’m Hilary Shughart, President of the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I am Wild About Utah!

Credits:
Photo: Coffee beans, Courtesy Pixabay, Couleur, Photographer https://pixabay.com/photos/coffee-beans-seed-caffeine-cafe-3392159/
Photo: Black-chinned Hummingbird, Courtesy US FWS, Alan Schmierer, Photographer, https://images.fws.gov/
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections/kevin-colver
Text: Hilary Shughart, President, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Hilary Shughart and Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

WildAboutUtah pieces by Hilary Shughart, https://wildaboututah.org/author/hilary-shughart/

Birds Supported by Coffee Farms, Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/birds-supported-coffee-farms

Caffe Ibis Triple-Certified Bird-Friendly Coffees https://www.caffeibis.com/learn/bird-friendly-certified/

Caffe Ibis Coffee Roasting Company
52 Federal Avenue, Logan UT 8432
https://www.caffeibis.com
https://www.caffeibis.com/product-category/all-coffee/?filter_certifications=bird-friendly,fair-trade,organic

Trevino, Julissa, Coffee Growing Can Be Good For Birds, Smithsonian Magazine, Feb 20, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/coffee-farms-are-good-birds-other-wildlife-study-finds-180968205/

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly® Coffee Program Protects Migratory Birds and Supports Shade-Grown Coffee Farms, Smithsonian Global, Smithsonian Institution, Jul 15, 2018, https://global.si.edu/success-stories/smithsonian-migratory-bird-center’s-bird-friendly®-coffee-program-protects-migratory

How Are Coffee And Birds Related?, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, April 1, 2009, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-are-coffee-and-birds-related/

Black-chinned Hummingbird, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-chinned_Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus, Field Guide, National Audubon, https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/broad-tailed-hummingbird

Caffe Ibis Bird-Friendly Coffee List, https://www.caffeibis.com/learn/bird-friendly-certified/
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