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YouTube Video of TNC Webinar

Had a great time talking about Jim Bond and Caribbean conservation last week -- with a lot about coral reefs, sandy beaches and the fish that Bond collected for science.

The webinar, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy on New Jersey and Montclair Film, also featured Marci Eggers, TNC's deputy director for the Caribbean.


Happy Birthday, Orlando Garrido!

One of the highlights of my trip to Cuba in 2016 was meeting the great ornithologist Orlando Garrido.

I met him as part of a group of birders who visited  Cuba with the Caribbean Conservation Trust.

The biggest reason for my trip was to meet (and later interview) Orlando for my book about ornithologist James Bond of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. 

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Orlando Garrido!" »

The Real James Bond at the AMNH

Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 3.28.04 PMIn my Zoom talk for the Linnaean Society earlier this week, I noted that the ornithologist James Bond also spoke to the group  -- at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC on April 11, 1944.

Turns out that Bond visited spoke at the AMNH earlier -- I just didn't know the date. ThanScreen Shot 2021-02-11 at 3.28.34 PMks to a search yesterday, I think I found the answer...

Early into my research for the book, I came across a clipping in a scrapbook  (in the James and Mary Bond archive at the Free Library of Philadelphia, as I recall) that reported on a Bond talk at the American Museum of Natural History.

I loved the sepia-toned clipping because it shows that Bond was a conservationist way back in the 1930s.

The clipping was marked with "NY Times" and "1936?"

I now believe it was neither. I think it may have been from the Philadelphia Bulletin, though I can't say for sure.

In my recent search, I came across an article Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 4.03.11 PMin the Des Moines Register from Nov. 26, 1933.

The article was about a gathering of 400 ornithologists at the AMNH for the Golden Jubilee of the American Ornithologists' Union.

And there was a paragraph about "Dr." James Bond lashing out against collectors and so-called scientists for killing so many birds.

The same pitch at the same place, with the same misidentification of Bond as a doctor of ornithology.

By the way, Bond has been criticized by some ornithologists for not collecting enough samples of various species for research.

About that Bond Bird in the Yale Art Gallery ...

Bond Prosek tagged bird 20200215_152652
Last spring, Gary Markowski of the Caribbean Conservation Trust was viewing James Prosek's exhibit "Art, Artifact, Artifice" at the Yale Art Gallery.

As he studied one of the works closely (it's also on the cover of Prosek's new book, photo right), he noticed Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 1.31.08 PM
that one of the parrots -- from Yale's own Peabody Museum of Natural History -- had been collected by the real James Bond on an island off Venezuela more than 60 years ago (photo above).

How did Bond's bird skin of a Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) end up in the Peabody, and then the Yale Art Gallery?  

It's a fascinating story.

Here goes.

Continue reading "About that Bond Bird in the Yale Art Gallery ..." »

What the Real James Bond Looked Like

Handsome James Bond bond00010 One of my goals in writing "The Real James Bond" was to correct many of the common misperceptions about the real James Bond (like the factoid that Bond gave Fleming to use his name), and to improve upon the usual images used for him in the media.

Then there's the shot that ran with Bond's discovery of the last Eskimo Curlew (below left), which ran in newspapers nationwide.

It shows Bond, in his mid-sixties, as a tweedy, bespectacled, eyeglass-wearing professorial type.

The Wikipedia photo for Bond (lower right)  -- taken when he was in his seventies and having health problems  -- made him look an old-style undertaker. 

The Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia has a terrific photo of the handsome Bond that I used for my book.  I share it here as well. (Thank you, Free Library!)

The two photos below were used for postage-stamp likenesses of Bond, which I included in my book.

Photo at right below: Jerry Freilich/ CC

Helping Nature in the Caribbean

IMG_1122 2 (2)
The real James Bond loved birds and the West Indies, and he was an advocate for protecting them both -- especially preaching the need to end the slaughter of rare species in the Caribbean.
JB bird collector menace 1955DSCN9112 (2)

The headline above was from an article in The New York Times in the mid-1930s. Bond was a noted ornithologist with a brand-new book, "Birds of the West Indies," by then. (But contrary to the sub-headline) he had no doctoral degree ... )

The introduction to the book went into great detail about the dangers facing the birds of the West Indies -- from humankind to hurricanes.

 One of the goals of this book is to raise awareness -- and money -- to help the environment in the Caribbean. To that end, all proceeds from talks and appearances generated by this book will go to The Nature Conservancy's Caribbean initiative.

Continue reading "Helping Nature in the Caribbean" »

The First Editions of 'Birds of the West Indies'

For fans of the real James Bond and Birds of the West Indies, a mystery still surrounds the very first edition, published in 1936 by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and printed by the Waverly Press in Baltimore.

The mystery is:  Why was the book published with two different bindings, one gray and the other dull green, with slightly different type on the spine?

The title page for both -- indeed, the entire book -- seems identical in both instances.

The photos are of my two first editions, one in each color.

No one seems to know which was published first, or why a change was made.

The one pictured above has the original dust jacket -- which took me four years to find for sale.

The dust jacket still has $4.50 in pencil -- the original price.

Tomorrow: A great webpage about all the editions of BOTWI.36

Friday: All about the bird on the cover of the 1936 and 1947 editions.

Yesterday: Read the 1936 BOTWI online for free, here.

Last Sunday: Ian Fleming's copy of BOTWI.

Fleming's Copy of 'Birds of the West Indies'

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936 7.5 in (1)When Ian Fleming stole the real James Bond's name from the cover (or title page) of Birds of the West Indies in early 1952, which edition was he looking at, the 1936 first edition or the 1947 second edition?

It's a subject of debate, with many Fleming experts siding with the 1947 edition. At this point, there's likely no definitive answer,  just theories.

But according to the noted ornithologist himself, the copy in question was the original 1936 edition, as he recounted to  Philadelphia Bulletin columnist Pete Martin in an interview published in October 1964.

Bond and his wife Mary had visited Goldeneye on Feb. 5 that year,  and (sadly) Fleming had died on Aug. 12.

Bond said that Fleming had (at least) two editions of Birds of the West Indies at his home in Jamaica. 

First, Bond said that Fleming "had the first edition -- the one that Bond quote ofn Fleming's 1936 editioncame out in 1936." [Pictured here].

Bond also said: "When we saw [Fleming], he had by then bought the latest edition of Birds of the West Indies.

In a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Fleming that was filmed the day that the real James Bond visited, Fleming's copy of Birds of the West Indies from the early 1960s is shown. (See below.)

My new illustrated biography, The Real James Bond, devotes an entire chapter to the day that Bond and Fleming met, and another chapter on the many versions of Birds of the West Indies that were published over the years.

One big question regarding that day remains: Whatever happened to Fleming's 1936 edition of Birds of the West Indies?

It is not in the Lilly Library's archive of Fleming's books at Indiana University. (I checked.)

You can read about James Bond's licenses to kill here.

You can read more about the day Fleming and Bond met here.

CBC BotWI Fleming interview

Assessing the Impact of Bond's Bird Research

1941 JB at academy file 027
For a chapter in the book on James Bond's legacy, I wanted to gauge how influential his ornithological writings were.

I came across "James Bond and citations to his books,"  a 2004 paper by Dr. Grant Lewison that was very helpful -- as was Dr. Lewison himself.

He assessed the impact of the various editions of Bond’s Birds of the West Indies using bibliometrics, a statistical analysis of books, articles and scientific papers.

As D5r. Lewison pointed out, it’s difficult to assess the value of a book on birds because its readership and citations depend to a large extent on its geographical coverage -- a field guide to the birds of North America, for instance, will have a larger impact than one about the Caribbean. 

Factoring in those variables, Lewiston concluded that “Birds of the West Indies has proven to be of enduring scientific interest and to have established its author as an ornithologist of distinction.”

The paper is not available to the public online, but if you email him here, he will be happy to send you a .pdf of the paper. (Thanks, Grant!)

Tomorrow: Where to view an ornithological bibliography of James Bond.

(Above photo courtesy the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.)