- Series: Butterflies Through Binoculars
- Paperback: 266 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 12, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195112687
- ISBN-13: 978-0195112689
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 48 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dragonflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America (Butterflies Through Binoculars) 1st Edition
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"Dragonflies have been around for over 250 million years, and it's about time they got the recognition they deserve...Now that shortcoming has been rectified for the 307 North American species in Dragonflies Through Binoculars, a compact book full of information...[Sidney W. Dunkle] has succeeded admirably with this volume, which is sure to delight the ever-increasing ranks of dragonfly enthusiasts...The range maps alone are worth the price of the book...Buy this book and spend a sunny summer afternoon along the shore of a stream, pond, or lake; your life will be transformed." -- Dennis R. Paulson, Science
"This long anticipated field guide has filled one of the major identification gaps for the general naturalist in North America.... The species accounts...contain a wealth of previously unrecorded biological and field identification information."--Audubon Naturalist News
"Until now...there has not been a good field guide for the dragonflies of North America. The new Dragonflies through Binoculars fills this need, and is sure to swell the ranks of those pursuing these fast-fliers.... The 47 color plates illustrate all but 14 of the 307 species of dragonflies found in North America....Each species has a very complete written account that provides extensive details on identification, comparisons with similar species, habitat notes, and information on seasonal occurrence. The author's personal comments on each species are particularly helpful, and reveal Dunkle's extensive knowledge and passion for dragonflies."--Birding Business
"More than just a field guide, Dragonflies through Binoculars describes the habitual, seasonal occurrence, and natural history of 307 species of dragonflies."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About the Author
Sidney W. Dunkle is a professor at Collin County Community College in Texas.
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I recommend Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies if you are starting out -- it is better organized, considers the needs of beginners regarding learning taxonomy and ID, and has more useful pictures. It is a bit bigger than a deck of cards, and can fit in a jacket pocket, let alone a daypack.
Dunkle's book continually frustrates me. The photos are all at the end of the book, and listed only by so-called 'common names', without proper taxonomic names (although the range maps on the facing pages have the Latin species names as well as common). If you have any serious interest in Odonata, all the professional literature uses proper taxonomic names. There is a movement in the Odonata hobby world to establish universally accepted common names, such as in the world of bird watching. I suppose that is is the motivation for the way names are presented here. I would rather learn proper taxonomy and learn one name than have to learn both so-called common AND taxonomic names. Publishers should at least give the proper taxonomic names the same graphic weight as the common names.
The photos here are so small as to be frequently useless, as well as being sometimes so dark that details are obscured. I believe this is the fault of the publisher, not the author. I don't kill or capture insects unless they are harming my garden. I photograph them and use detailed close-ups of diagnostic features for ID. If you ID bugs with the animal in your hand and magnifier handy, you may find the descriptive material in Dunkle sufficient. Be aware that there are species that can not be identified without the use of a magnifier or even a microscope for inspection of diagnostic characters. By avoiding capturing insects we must accept being unable to do positive ID on some species.
As proof that modern publishing technology permits better organization and graphics, consider the excellent "Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast", by Giff Beaton (2007, U of GA Press) which has very useful frequently life size or larger photos, excellent descriptions and better organization, with images integrated very well into the text. Although it is a bit heavy to be a pack-along field guide, it is only a bit larger and heavier than Dunkle's book, and I find my copy far more useful (I live in the area it covers). It is also better bound and constructed. Dunkle has glued in fascicles, while Beaton has sewn in fascicles and a cloth spine with sturdy card-paper covers. It will actually last as a field guide while the Dunkle will be more likely to fall apart. Again, the fault of the publisher more than the author.
For serious professional level work or citizen scientists, there are larger and more expensive professional monographs by Needham et al, with detailed anatomical keys and many excellent illustrations. Those are expensive, heavy, and not for the field unless you are working out of a vehicle with your dissecting scope by your side.
Ed Lam writes that he is in the process of illustrating a Petersen's Guide to Dragonflies of NA, and judging from the sample paintings on his website, it should be very good, and a genuine packable fieldguide. I hope his great artwork is allowed to be printed large enough to be appreciated and useful.
I bought the Beaton book after finding the Dunkle book too frustrating to use, and had I bought Beaton first, I would not have bought the Dunkle. Depending on where you live, you may find a regional guide more useful than either of these, but I like the Beaton book quite well.
I also have Butterflies through Binoculars, which has organization and construction similar to the Dunkle, but is somewhat more useful since butterflies are often more unique in appearance than Odonata, so the too-small photos at the end of the book are a bit less annoying. I think when these books came out they may have been an improvement on available field guides, but I think they have been superceded in utility and quality.
As field guides go there are two schools of thought, Photos and art. When it comes to birds many beginning birders prefer photos because they have a hard time translating the semi abstraction of an illustration to what they are seeing in life. Dragonflies through binoculars is based upon beautiful photographs of the Dragonfly species represented. The problem with photographs is they can only show what the camera sees. The disadvantage is the human eye is far more sensitive than a camera. As a result photographs can leave a lot to be desired. On the other hand art can go beyond what the camera shows and show detail a photograph misses.
As I have gained experience with Dragonflies I have managed to identify a few species using this guide. I was very pleased when I managed to correctly identify the common skimmer Dot-tailed Whiteface using this guide. As I spend more time in the field I really wish the photos were much larger and that more descriptive text would be devoted to each species. In the end I abandoned this guide in favor of The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio, by Larry Rosche. Published by The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The Stoke's Beginners Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies, has also proven useful. For me Dragonflies through Binoculars has become a bookshelf reference rather than a Field Guide.
If you are interested in Dragonflies this book is essential. However from my perspective I would rather pay twice as much and get a book where the beautiful photos could be viewed in all their glory.