2017 Owl AwardDorothy Hazlett
RDRN nominated Dorothy Hazlett for the Owl Award at the beginning of August of 2017. Unfortunately, Dorothy passed away on August 15, 2017, so this will be the first time the Owl Award is given out posthumously.
Dorothy was a big behind-the-scenes supporter of RDRN. She never sat on the Board but she helped out where she could. One of the biggest things she did was to send out the newsletter every month. I think she did this for decades. She would go down to the City Mail Room, pick up the printed newsletters, go back to the Nature Centre, fold, stuff and put labels on the envelopes. Then she would go to the Museum and run the envelopes through the stamp machine and take them, after sorting them into local and non-local envelopes, to the mail boxes.
Dorothy could also always be counted on to help with the RDRN audit every year.
In 1969 Dorothy went across Canada in a Volkswagen Beetle with her friend Mary. To relieve the tedium of driving long stretches of highway, they started looking at the birds. Somewhere along the way, they bought a bird book and it was all downhill from there. Dorothy was hooked.
In 2000 Dorothy and I started going birding on Monday afternoons. After doing this for awhile, Margaret Coutts, the President at the time, asked us to open this up to RDRNers and thus the Bird Focus Group was revived. Dorothy never missed a Monday, except for the times she was in Mexico. She shared her expertise about birds and inspired the rest of us to learn more. She was an absolutely phenomenal birder, especially about identifying the bird songs. She could even tell the difference between the “chip” of a warbler and that of a sparrow. Apparently, the warbler’s is more “full-bodied” than the sparrow’s. I couldn’t hear that but Dorothy could. Even now, someone will ask me which bird is singing that song. When I say I don’t know, I’ll hear someone mutter, “Dorothy would have known.” And she would have.
Many of the Mondays were spent at Hazlett Lake. It was a wonderful place on extremely frigid winter days to watch the bird feeders from the warmth of Dorothy’s kitchen. She always had munchies and hot drinks for us. Often, we went there because a rare bird such as a Harris’ Sparrow or Barred Owl had showed up. She loved having all the birders out to her place to share her birds. She would laugh when she had seen something really cool, just before we arrived, and it wasn’t there when we got there. Thus, began the saying, “You should have been here half an hour ago…”
Dorothy went on probably all of the RDRN field trips, both near and far. She went to learn but also to help others further their knowledge, not only of birds but butterflies and plants too. When RDRN hosted the 2006 Nature Canada Conference, Dorothy was a leader for the field trips so she shared her knowledge nationally, not just locally.
Dorothy will be greatly missed, not only for her birding skills but for her “cup-half-full” attitude towards live. She was a lot of fun to be with.