Robert H. Stymeist
Dorothy Arvidson with Herman D’Entremont at Mount Auburn Cemetery, May 2003. Courtesy of Eva Casey.
The staff of Bird Observer is saddened by the death of Dorothy Arvidson, who passed away at the age of 96 on April 9, 2017, in Texas. Dorothy joined the Bird Observer editorial staff in 1978 and served as editor of the magazine from 1983–1991. Dorothy presided over many changes in Bird Observer that enhanced the journal. Under her editorship, Bird Observer introduced a new look; after 15 years of the same cover design of a pair of Hudsonian Godwits, we initiated a new cover protocol that featured a different bird each issue.
Dorothy was an avid collector of bird art. She traveled to Wisconsin several times to attend the annual Birds in Art exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, where she met several of the artists whose work graced many of our covers. Since the first cover of a Great Horned Owl by Scott Hecker in February 1987, we have had 180 different illustrations of birds from many different artists.
Dorothy maintained a high standard of editing and quality. One of her classic contributions to Bird Observer was her article “On Records of Birds,” published in Volume 12, Number 1 in February 1984. Although digital photography now makes documentation of bird identification easier, this article is still a standard for reviewing the aspects of writing a rare bird report. The article details the history of record keeping of birds in Massachusetts, the certain minimal data required of a report, and a list of difficult species that can be confusing.
Dorothy loved to travel, was a friend to many, and was an enthusiastic field companion. She will be missed.