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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dragonflies for birders

Halloween Pennant dragonfly, so aptly named, and one of my favorites.

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer. The most colorful dragonflies with patterns on their wings are often in the Skimmer family of dragonflies.

When the birding slows down in summer and birds are quiet in the middle of the day, birders turn to watching dragonflies, that's what we do. Dragonflies are active on warm days, the hotter and sunnier the better. Dragonflies are stunningly beautiful, have cool names, and are abundant in fields, lakes, streams, shores, many of the places people go in summer.

Here are a few tips to enjoy and identify them.

1. Use your binoculars to spot them, if you have close focusing binos, even better.
2. Some dragonfly males patrol territories along ponds, lakes, and streams. Females mate with them then lay their eggs on emerging vegetation. If you see 2 dragonflies flying in tandem, this is a precursor to mating. In the wheel positon, mating is occurring.
3. Some dragonflies are more perchers, others more fliers, that can be a clue to their ID. Different perchers have different ways of perching, again an ID clue.
4. In general, some of the most obvious, colorful, and patterned-wing dragonflies you see are in the Skimmer family, so look in that section of our book.
5. Different species of dragonflies are on the wing at different times during the summer, so you will constantly see new ones.
6. Male, female and immature dragonflies of the same species can look different, just like birds.

We (along with dragonfly experts Blair Nikula and Jackie Sones) produced a book, Stokes Beginner's Guide To Dragonflies in order to quickly help you get into enjoying these marvelous insects. We worked out an easy key and lots of color photos. Take it and binoculars along with you the next time you go to the lake, river or stream. We take it with us in the canoe whenever we go out in the summer. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Hello Stokes Folks!

I love your beginners dragonfly guide. I'd gladly buy a larger and more comprehensive dragonfly field guide. I hope such a project will come along someday!

Thanks for all that you do!

Lynne2 said...

awesome! I'm puttin' that book on my Christmas List! Birding hasn't slowed down here (near Baltimore) but Dragonflies are VERY numerous all of a sudden and I've been trying to get pictures....which isn't easy!

The Boisverts said...

we've loved this book for a year or so young sons love to try to find the dragonfly they spot in your guide! Great, clear photos.