Friday, August 6, 2010


SkimmerEight-spotted Skimmer, Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon on 5 August 2010 by Greg Gillson.


Yesterday the birding was rather slow, but I noticed several dragonflies. I should have a macro lens for close-ups, but since I don't, I stood with my 100-400 mm telephoto lens back about 7 feet from the insects.

Everything I know about dragonflies I learned 30 minutes ago from local fellow birder and blogger Stefan Schlick in a recent post to his Birdmeister blog.

The odonates of Emma Jones Natural Preserve in Hillsboro, OR (08/04/10, part1)

The odonates of Emma Jones Natural Preserve in Hillsboro, OR (08/04/10, part2)

I knew, or thought I knew, that the fat-bodied ones were dragonflies, and the thin-bodied ones were damselflies. Beyond that I knew nothing about these "bugs," except that some birders also liked identifying these and butterflies, as well as birds.

Photographing them yesterday I didn't know if the different-colored flies were males and females (seems they probably were) or whether I needed more than the abdomen color and wing pattern (probably do).

So, even though Stefan calls himself "quite a rookie" I used his photos and ID's of local dragonflies as the basis for my identifications.

So, here goes. The beautiful creature pictured above is likely Eight-spotted Skimmer.

Next are the two damselflies, probably a blue male and green female (or do I have this backwards?). Stefan's photo of a mating pair has me confused about dragonfly anatomy... (hey, no rude comments there!). Tule Bluet? Is that some kind of inside bug joke?

OK, on to the big blue and green dragonflies. Again, the blue is male and female green? These, I guess, are Western Pondhawks?

I found a nice website of dragonfly photos at Greg Lasely's Dragonflies and Damselflies.


  1. Oh, how neat! My children and I love damselflies and dragonflies! There was a dragonfly flying around our yard yesterday that we watched for quite awhile. I like your pictures! How great that you saw so many. :-)

  2. Nice job! The blue damsel is a male Tule Bluet based on the amount of black on the abdomen. The "green" one looks like a teneral (recently emerged) male Tule Bluet although the angle is tough. You are right on the Western Pondhawks, but males do start out green like the females and turn blue with maturity.

  3. Lovely Dragonfly images! I do not know if it is the same where you live, yet this season our home area seems to be flooded with a hearty abundance of Dragonflies~

  4. These are very hard to ID- even with a guide. Seems some are more common around here than others which helps. I have 'Dragonflies & Damselflies of the Willamette Valley, Oregon' by Cary Kerst and Steve Gordon. I find it very helpful for local ID. There is also a gigantic book of western dragonflies that is just ridiculosus! ;) I use the same photo technique as you...70-300mm and stand back 6 feet or so--which works pretty well.

  5. The best online sources for dragonflies are:
    Slater Museum
    Odonata Central
    Unfortunately, the site at Oregon State University which included lots of useful range maps is either down or extinct...

  6. Your first photo is indeed a male Eight-spotted Skimmer. Stewart Lake at HP (where I work) in Corvallis hosts 9 regular species of dragonfly and 2 damselflies, which make a nice addition to birds during the slow season. (I can't believe it took me about 14 years to discover and appreciate the summer mini-beasts that abound there.) Enjoy!

  7. I was recently posted on my blog about doing the same thing - trying to identify some local dragonflies and damselflies on San Juan Island! There are so many different bluets I had a tough time telling them apart, but one thing I learned is that damselfly females can have two color forms - so while the duller ones are definitely females, some of the brighter blue ones are too!

  8. Fyi, in spring 2011 OSU Press will publish Cary Kerst and Steve Gordon's book "Dragonflies and Damselflies of Oregon: A Field Guide."

  9. Thanks to everyone for sending me links to more dragonfly web sites.

    These two additional references were recommended:
    including an Oregon checklist by county:

  10. Very simple anatomical difference between damselflies and dragonflies...dragonflies hold their wings out to the side, damselflies hold their wings directly above over their back
    The aquatic juvenile dragonfly is more squat and fat bodied, and the damselfly is more slender and delicate looking, with tail 'fins' that are their gills for oxygen acquisition