Birds of the West Indies Feed

'Birds of the West Indies' in Action!

IMG_0462Charlie Quinn shared this terrific shot of the endemic Barbados Bullfinch getting ready to peruse James Bond's classic Birds of the West Indies. In Barbados. Thanks, Charlie!

You can read more about this smart bird here:

I love what Bond wrote in the fifth edition: "remarkably tame in gardens of Barbados."

(I'll be giving away a free copy of this edition at my talk on Tuesday at the Ridgewood Public Library).




"Birds of the West Indies" for Sale

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936  7.5 in
The market for early editions of Birds of the West Indies continues to be quite bullish.

A friend recently pointed out a couple of first editions of James Bond's seminal 1936 Birds of the West Indies are for sale. The price has certainly gone up since its debut, when it sold for $4.50.

Here's one for $16,000.

Here's another for $12,500.

Neither had a dust jacket, which is a nice feature to have when you're shelling out that kind of dough, but the main selling point is that they are signed first editions.

A couple of years ago, I could have bought one for $4,000, but I thought that was a bit steep. Wrong.

I also found an unsigned 1947 edition on eBay, incorrectly billed as  Field Guide of Birds in the West Indies. The blurb for the book states that this was the edition of the book that Fleming used to swipe Bond's name from the cover, but that is most likely incorrect. 

While researching The Real James Bond, I came across an interview with Bond in which he said that when he visited Fleming at Goldeneye, Fleming showed him the 1936 edition.

The 1947 edition is still a great book, and the first edition that was streamlined enough to be useful in the field.

A few British sellers were offering the same copy for $1,900.

No mention of a dustjacket for that copy either.

1947 field guide up for auction






Bond's West Indies Bird Contributors

2019 Aubrecht image66(1)The Journal of Caribbean Ornithology just published a paper by Gerhard Aubrecht of Austria about James Bond and his bird contributors (literally and figuratively) in the West Indies.

It features extensive research into Bond and the birders he consulted for the book and dedicated the first and classic Birds of the West Indies to:

Screen Shot 2022-04-11 at 7.38.50 AM
An impressive bit of research. You can read it here:

Download JCO_v35_1_16_Aubrecht_DOI(1)


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!" »

An Album of Bondian Birds and Bird Songs

I  just came across an album that blends electronic music with the sounds of endangered birds in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

The album's producers write:

"For the album we chose 10 endangered or threatened bird species and challenged 10 of our favorite producers or musicians from the region. Working with the Xeno Canto birdsong community and the Macaulay Library, we sourced a recording of each bird’s song. Each artist was then askeZapata wren 1936 botwi Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 3.00.27 PMd to create an original piece of music inspired by the bird and its song."

What's more, 100% of the profits from the album will go to organizations working to protect these birds, including a new favorite of mine, Birds Caribbean.

My favorite is "Black Catbird," by the Garifuna Collective. Reminded me of Belize and the wonderful times I had there.

My guess is the real James Bond would have loved the last song, Ferminia, featuring the call of Cuba's Zapata Wren, a bird near and dear to him.

The writeup to the right is from Bond's 1936 edition of Birds of the West Indies. Note the local name for the wren.

You can learn more about the album here.


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" »