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