You see photos of them in Kansas tourist literature.
They made an appearance after a tragedy in Ukraine.
Row after row of tall, green, sturdy stalks holding sunflower heads. Outlined with rim of yellow to attract pollinators, the seed heads mature in long summer days.
It went a little different in my garden.
They sprouted in a row. Critters nipped and snacked on several. A few (three) survived with stalks pushing the forming heads above the tomatoes. The shortest blossomed first. As they matured they drooped. One over the fence to greet the neighbor, another over the tomato ring to entangle with the vines.
When are they ready? Do I wait for them to dry on the stalk? I inspected one head, found formed seeds. I picked it to dry and set it aside on the patio.
It vanished. The thief left a mess of shells. Ah…should I blame chipmunks or squirrels?
The very next day I watched the thief in action. He wore gray and used his tail for balance as he skipped along the bent stalk. Chomp. Chomp. He carried away the smaller of the remaining heads.
Within minutes he returned with a friend. This time they pulled the seed container down and nibbled along the edges.
No seed will be saved by human to plant next year. Hope they enjoyed their treat.