Janet Heywood. Photograph by Nancy Heywood.
Janet Heywood, who died in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 16, 2021, was on the Bird Observer staff for 25 years from 1981 to 2006, when she moved back to her native Cincinnati. She initially worked on the production of Bird Observer and quickly was promoted to production manager in 1982. She then served as the journal’s associate editor from 1987 to 1997. She was especially adept at cartography, something that had interested her since childhood. Her younger sister, Nancy, recalled how she and Janet were fascinated with a pirate map that they played with, exploring where each path led on the map. Nancy felt that their interest in maps related to the lure of the unknown, a desire to seek and follow it, and to find a place often hidden away.
Bird Observer readers will recognize the exquisite and detailed maps prepared by Janet for Where to Go Birding articles from 1991 to 2006 (see Figure 1. Map of Martha’s Vineyard). She also prepared maps for Birding Cape Cod, published by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and Cape Cod Bird Club (1990), and A Birder’s Guide to Eastern Massachusetts, published by the American Birding Association (1994).
Staff also will recall the many Bird Observer staff meetings at Janet and Bob Stymeist’s house, first on Boylston Street in Watertown and then on Grove Street on the grounds of Mount Auburn Cemetery. Ever present at the meetings were Janet’s beloved cats, first Darcy and then Raven.
Janet’s artistic talents, attention to detail, organizational skills, and bottomless curiosity left their marks well beyond Bird Observer, to the delight of many birders. As vice president of interpretive programs at Mount Auburn Cemetery, she instituted many steps to welcome birders, such as initiating Mount Auburn-sponsored bird walks throughout the year and placing a bird sightings chalkboard at the cemetery’s main entrance for birders to consult before starting their own birding. She also edited Sweet Auburn, a publication of the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery, from 1993–2006. She generously gave of her time to many other endeavors in the Massachusetts birding community, such as helping with the organization of the 1990 Association of Field Ornithologists and Wilson Ornithological Society meeting at Wheaton College, an event renowned ornithologist John Kricher recalls as one of their best meetings ever.
Bird Observer certainly has been fortunate to have had so many talented volunteers produce the journal over its nearly fifty-year history. We are lucky to have counted Janet Heywood among them.
Figure 1. Map of Martha’s Vineyard.