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Sunflowers for Wildlife

Sunflowers for Wildlife

The 25-acres of sunflowers will go to seed, providing food for birds and other creatures. Emma Dixon examines one of the sunflowers.

The 25-acres of sunflowers will go to seed, providing food for birds and other creatures. Emma Dixon examines one of the sunflowers. Photo by Mary Kimm.

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Hundreds of visitors armed only with cameras came to McKee Beshers Wildlife Management area in the last couple of weeks to shoot photo of the spectacular flowers.

The peak bloom of 25 acres of sunflowers off River Road is past, but the fading flowers will leave seeds that attract songbirds and other wildlife for some time to come. Goldfinches and Indigo Buntings are visible by the the dozen as the sunflower seeds mature.

The staff of the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service planted the sunflowers in five 5-acre plots at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area off River Road near Hughes Hollow Road.

McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area is 2,000 acres providing habitat for a great diversity of wildlife species including deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, more than 200 species of songbirds, and numerous reptiles and amphibians, according to the Wildlife and Heritage Service.

“Planting of sunflowers is a wildlife habitat management technique implemented to attract mourning doves and other wildlife, including numerous species of songbirds that feed on sunflower seeds,” said Ken D’Loughy of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. “As the sunflower seeds mature they will not be harvested, but are left to provide food for wildlife. These sunflower fields will draw many dove hunting enthusiasts starting on Sept. 1 of this year to hunt this very challenging game bird.”

See http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Publiclands/central/mckeebeshers.asp.