Saturday, July 21, 2012

Meeting an Odonatologist

What you ask. You can now impress your friends with your latest acquired knowledge. An odonatologist studies dragonflies and damselflies.

After returning home from some walking exercise along the nearby river, I stopped to chat with an RV park neighbor couple who were sitting outside their pop up camper.

As I arrived he was mounting dragonflies. Had to get the story from this guy. His career was ornithology and he spent many years in field research or in the college classroom. When he retired, there were too many birders for him to continue his passion.

He decided he would find a less crowded pursuit. So with a net in hand he became an odonatologist. Catching dragonflies and damselflies throughout the Midwest has occupied his summers every year since retirement. Mounting and recording the location of the find is part of the research. His work results in a data base of information for the insects and where they were found.

I wondered why they had a second vehicle as they traveled. She laughed and said that while he was tramping around in swamp water, she needed a rental car to get away from the campground to do some of her own exploring. Depending on the length of stay and weather conditions (100 degree temps here) will determine whether they get a rental car.

Everybody has a story. As we talked about birds and bird books, somehow the name Sibley came into the conversation. Soon enough I realized that Fred and his wife are the parents of David Allen Sibley. Son David is the creator and author of the Sibley Field Guide to Birds. (My copy is the Western North America issue.)

Rare for a son to follow in a father's profession. David has been watching birds from a very early age and he was able to observe and hear differences that are not noticed by some one at a more advanced age. Like me.

With David's abilities as an illustrator and curious bird observer, it seemed obvious the next step was to create the Sibley bird guides.

Life is great. Meeting Fred and his wife have proved once again: learning is fun; it's a small world; and everyone has a story.

Getting photos of dragonflies is tough. The photo is from my traveling archives and was taken on a cool morning. A bit sluggish made it possible for me to capture this guy.


  1. Wow. I have a Sibley book, too. Still use it in class. You are right: everyone has a story. Better than TV any day.

  2. I've been photographing dragonflies this spring and summer in the midwest. I was getting a little tired of flowers and had to move on to something new. What'll it be for fall, I wonder?


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