Birds of the West Indies Feed

The Newest 'Birds of the West Indies'

A new iteration of Birds of the West Indies came out last year.Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 1.29.03 PM

It arrived after I submitted my manuscript, so it's not mentioned in The Real James Bond.

But that doesn't preclude my posting about it.

I recently ordered a copy of the book, and it's pretty awesome. (It even includes QR codes that provide access to more resources online.)

You can read a thorough review of the book in the  Journal of Caribbean Ornithology here.


An Art Talk Not to Be Missed

Bond Prosek artwork
I had hoped to visit the Yale Art Gallery this spring to see an incredible exhibit by the artist James Prosek, but then  Covid-19 hit and the museum had to close.

The good news is that the exhibition has been extended for when the museum reopens, Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 1.31.08 PMand Prosek is giving a free Zoom talk on his latest book this week.

Here's the write-up from the museum:

Join us on Thursday, June 25, at 5:30 pm (EST), for the virtual launch of James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice, a publication by award-winning artist, writer, and naturalist James Prosek, B.A. 1997. Prosek will read an excerpt from the book and discuss his deep connection with the natural world. Followed by an audience Q&A moderated by Tiffany Sprague, Director of Publications and Editorial Services.

You can register here.

What does this have to with this the real James Bond? One of the birds Bond collected is part of the artwork above.

I will explain in a post next week. (Every bird tells a story...)

(Top photo by Gary Markowski of the Caribbean Conservation Trust, who noticed Bond's bird in the artwork. Thanks, Gary!)


Bond, Fleming and Kling-klings

Kling-Kling Bird at GoldenEye
One of my favorite birds in Jamaica is the  Kling-Kling, a.k.a the Greater Antillean Grackle or Jamaican Grackle. I saw these mischievous birds both times I visited GoldenEye, the resort created from Ian Fleming's winter residence in Oracabessa.

The first time, one was rearranging the napkins at the waterside bistro (above).

Continue reading "Bond, Fleming and Kling-klings" »


A Tale of Two Boobies

Brown Booby Kevin Watson Belize 20100208 522 (1)                                                                        Photo by Kevin Watson

My latest column for The Record is about an extraordinary series of events that happened early this month.

A storm blew two Brown Boobies from the Caribbean clear to the tristate region. One landed in Bergen County, the other on Long Island.

The real James Bond wrote about these unusual birds in his many editions of Birds of the West Indies.

You can download the column here:

Download Wright Record Bird Watcher_20200528_LF03_2

Or read it here:

By Jim Wright
Special to The Record 

This is the tale of two long-distance seabirds.

Their story began earlier this month, a nasty cold front propelled the two birds all the way from their native tropics to North Jersey and Long Island -- more than 1,500 miles out of their range. They were found roughly 35 miles apart, in bad shape, on the same Saturday.

Continue reading "A Tale of Two Boobies" »


When Aussies Embraced the real Bond and 007

CBOCJamesBondPostcard                                                                                                Photo by Tony Peri

In advance of my talk this Saturday at the virtual Cape May Spring Festival, I am re-posting one of my favorite posts each day this week.

In my new book, I wrote about the enduring bond between bird-watchers and 007 fans. 

One of the most imaginative mash-ups of the two was by the Cumberland Bird Observers Club in Sydney, Australia, which used the Fleming-Bond connection to promote birdwatching in 2001.

The 560-member club produced a flyer and postcard (above) featuring a photo of a dashing, binoculars-wielding birder in a tuxedo, accompanied by four women birders in sexy gowns and miniskirts.

The goal: to attract new members by showing that birdwatching could involve more than folks in drab outfits gawking at ducks through spotting scopes. The club even had a web page devoted to Jim Bond. (Now reinstated, here.)

Continue reading "When Aussies Embraced the real Bond and 007" »


Collecting the Real James Bond's Books


IMG_0008In advance of my talk this Saturday at the virtual Cape May Spring Festival, I am re-posting one of my favorite posts each day this week, plus a couple of new posts -- like this one.

A great acquaintance recently directed me to some pretty cool James Bond collector groups on Facebook.

One of my favorites is James Bond Collectable Books Worldwide, Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 1.15.38 PMwhich has a wonderful array of collectors  -- some with extraordinary collections of 007 books.

I am now trying to see how many folks (besides me) collect the various incarnations of "Birds of the West Indies."

Below is most of my collection, which includes "Birds of the West Indies" by as many authors as I could find, plus Mary Wickham Bond's memoirs. Some are a bit worn, but I've grown attached.

I used a lot them to research  my book, which has a whole chapter on "Birds of the West Indies."

I already need to expand that chapter.

My favorites are the ground-breaking 1936 and 1947 editions of James Bond's work.

Friday: When Aussie birders embraced Bond.

Saturday:
James Bond's backyard bird list?
 
You can read more about the festival and my talk (about "The Real James Bond") here.

 


Real James Bond & the Bahama Nuthatch

Bahama Huthatch Hayes_7607-1200-(2)(2)
In advance of my talk this Saturday at the virtual Cape May Spring Festival, I am re-posting one of my favorite posts each day this week.

By now, many people have heard about the likely extinction of the Bahama Nuthatch.

When one wrestles with the destruction that Hurricane Dorian wrought on the Bahamas and its people, the extinction of a bird pales in comparison -- especially a bird few folks have heard of.

One reason the bird is relatively obscure is that it has long been considered a subspecies -- even by ornithologist James Bond, who found one at High Rock Settlement, most likely in 1931.  It will likely become a separate species after its extinction.

Continue reading "Real James Bond & the Bahama Nuthatch" »


The First Editions of 'Birds of the West Indies'

IMG_0934
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.


Read Bond's 1936 'Birds of the West Indies' Online

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936 7.5 in

The first edition of Bond's "Birds of the West Indies" (1936) was where Ian Fleming got 007's name, according to the real James Bond himself.

You can read it online here. (That's the Cuban Tody on the cover, above.)

The original "Birds of the West Indies," by Charles B. Cory (1889), is also online.

A digitized copy from William Brewster's library is here.


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