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Photos: Sunflowers are back in bloom at Columbia Bottoms. Here’s where to find them

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Cora Young, 8, holds her brother, Oliver, 4 months, as her brother Charlie, 5, stands next to her while their mother, Jessica Young, all of Edwardsville, makes a portrait on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.

July marks the season of firework spectaculars, summer fun and massive sunflower blooms in north St. Louis County.

The Missouri Department of Conservation for years has planted sunflowers in more than a dozen fields throughout the 4,300-acre Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.

The fields are part of the department's habitat management for mourning doves. The area becomes a popular destination for dove hunters each September.

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“The large flowers supply seeds that entice the birds, and their lofty stalks create cover for the hunters who pursue them,” the agency explains on its website. “Sunflowers also benefit a wide variety of other birds and pollinators.”

The blooms typically remain open from early July to mid-August, depending on weather conditions.

The site has become popular with for nature photographers and selfie enthusiasts alike. Drivers can easily spot the golden fields from Riverview Drive, north of Interstate 270.

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A bumblebee buries its face into a sunflower while collecting pollen on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Wanda Randolph, 66, of Fenton, stretches to make a photograph of an expansive field of sunflowers on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Sunflowers bloom on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake. Missouri Department of Conservation staff have been planting sunflowers for years as part of their management for mourning doves, which inhabit the area each September.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
An Indigo Bunting perches on a sunflower on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A bird perches on a sunflower on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A bumblebee buries its face into a sunflower while collecting pollen on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A Dickcissel bird takes off after sitting on a sunflower on Friday in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Dan McKeever. 69, makes a photograph of Michelle McKeever, 63, and Murray, their 8-year-old beagle, all of Affton, in front of a field of sunflowers on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A bumblebee buries its face into a sunflower while collecting pollen on Friday.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Charlie Young, 5, of Edwardsville, squeezes his way through a sunflower field on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Don Take, 76, takes a selfie alongside Karen Take, 68, both of Glen Carbon, on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A bumblebee buries its face into a sunflower while collecting pollen on Friday in Spanish Lake.
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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A sign designating an upcoming sunflower field is staked into the ground on Friday at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake.

Brian Munoz is a staff photojournalist and multimedia reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. You can reach him by email at bmunoz@stlpr.org and follow his work on Instagram and Twitter at @brianmmunoz.

Brian Munoz is a photojournalist and multimedia reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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