'Real James Bond' Useful Links

Handsome James Bond bond00010
Interested in learning more about the book? Here are some useful links, including a raft of great reviews.

You can read my article about the real Bond in The Smithsonian Magazine here.

My interview with BirdWatching Magazine is here.

The Real James Bond has gotten some marvelous reviews and praise, and I thought it might be helpful to link to as many of them as possible in one spot -- here:

Continue reading "'Real James Bond' Useful Links" »

My Next Free 007 Zoom Talk: Tuesday

Screen Shot 2022-12-15 at 8.49.55 AMLooking forward to presenting my next Zoom talk on Tuesday, with some new material on 007 in the Adirondacks.

Meet The Real James Bond
A free Zoom talk for
the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 7 pm.

In 1952, Ian Fleming stole the name of a famous ornithologist and explorer named James Bond (1900-1989), the author of the trail-blazing Birds of the West Indies.

This colorfully illustrated talk will focus on Bond, Ian Fleming, and some 007 moments in the Adirondacks.

Jim Wright is the author of The Real James Bond, the acclaimed biography of the author and birdman who fell prey to the world’s most famous case of identity theft. The Wall Street Journal called it “slim and elegant” -- just like the real Bond and 007.
You can register here:

Book Signed by James and Mary Bond

I happened upon this webpage advertising a copy Screen Shot 2023-01-10 at 8.59.14 AMof How 007 Got His Name, signed by both James Bond and his wife, Mary Wickham Bond.

Here's part of the description:

First edition, first impression, inscribed by the author and her husband James Bond on the front free endpaper: "To Sarah and Bill, with Democratic wishes (R-L? or L-R?) from Mary Wickham Bond. April 8 1967" and "From a Republican. James Bond". While copies signed by the author occasionally appear in commerce, those signed by the subject are evidently scarce.


Worth a look!


Happy Birthday, James Bond!

JB's bitrhplace today
Happy birthday to noted ornithologist and identity-theft victim James Bond, who would have turned 122 today,

Bond was born at 1821 Pine Street, a four-story brick building that's still standing. It is now apartments.

Here's a bit more background, from my book:Screen Shot 2023-01-04 at 11.19.14 AM

Unlike a certain spy of the same name, went by “Jimmy” or “Jim” his entire life. 

The Twentieth Century would be known as the American Century, shaped by two cataclysmic wars and incredible technological advances -- from automobiles and airplanes to high-powered computers and a ubiquitous Internet -- and Bond would live through nine decades of it.

  The Bond family fortune was enormous, but for the youngster, it was ultimately far less significant than its location, Philadelphia, a city long known as the cradle of American ornithology. 

Thanks to such pioneer ornithologists as author-illustrator Alexander Wilson, the legendary John James Audubon, author John Cassin, and Academy of Natural Sciences founding member Thomas Say, Bond grew up in an environment where birds and natural history were revered.

 Jim Bond was born into a long line of U.S. Bonds that dates from as early as the 1600s.  His ancestors are said to include Thomas and Phineas Bond, who were among the founders of the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Hospital.

Meeting Orlando Garrido Again

Jim with Orlando Garrido Barbara Retzlaff  IMG_3633I met with the legendary Cuban ornithologist Orlando Garrido in Havana for the first time since The Real James Bond came out and presented him with a copy of the book. I had interviewed him for the book back in 2016.

The visit was part of a birding tour with the Caribbean Conservation Trust, and the visit was one of the highlights.

In fact, the Caribbean Conservation Trust was the main reason I went to Cuba back in 2016. I saw that a visit with Orlando was part of the trip, and I really wanted to meet him after seeing the exchange of letters between Orlando and Jim Bond in the Academy if Natural Sciences archives.
Jim Bond was Orlando's stateside mentor, and Orlando has become a research associate for Bond's Academyof Natural Sciences -- a fitting honor for a living legend.

Orlando was wearing a BirdsCaribbean T-shirt featuring the endemic birds of Cuba.
We saw most of them on our 11-day trip.
(A big thank you to Barbara Retzlaff for taking the photo.)

A Nifty Ornithology Story

The Academy of  Natural  Sciences in Philadelphia -- James Bond's home base for six decades, has a neat story about its Ornithology Department nowadays.

(Above, a tag from a Bee Hummingbird that Bond collected for science on the Isle of Pines (now called the Isle of Youth) in Cuba.

You can read it here:


Trick question: The Isle of Youth is the second-largest Cuban island. What is the largest?

See the answer below:






For the Bond Fan on Your Gift List

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I was doing some 007 surfing on the Internet yesterday and came across a webpage for Top Gift Ideas from James Bond fans.

My book is included on the list. I thought they described it quite nicely:

Hardcore Bond fans already have the original novel versions of their favorite films. And if they don’t, it’s easy to get these books online.

If you’re looking for a book that a true Bond fan will appreciate, try Jim Wright’s The Real James Bond: A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming.

It tells the story of the American ornithologist whose name was borrowed by Fleming to create Agent 007.

It’s a chronicle of the background, adventures, misadventures, and scientific expeditions of the real-life James Bond – a glimpse into Fleming’s creative process.

The link is here:


I kinda like the bird wallpaper in the background, too. It would make some nice gift wrap.

Also came across a couple of reviews of the book in Portuguese and Romanian, also very cool.

A Hard-to-find 'Birds of the West Indies'

In my several years of researching and writing about the real James Bond, I have found only one edition of the nearly 70 years of Birds of the West Indies next to impossible to get -- the 1985 fifth edition published by  Collins.

Although it has one of the most striking covers of the later editions, it has caught the eye of collectors for another reason: It is featured in the 2002 Bond film “Die Another Day," when Pierce Brosnan's  007 examines this edition of the Birds of the West Indies in a Havana hotel (with the real Bond's name crossed out).

James Bond poses as a birdman in a memorable sequence with Halle Berry.

When the binoculars-toting 007 meets Jinx (played by Halle Berry), he makes a typical movie Bond quip.

“I’m just here for the birds,” he explains. “Ornithologist.”

Every time I tried to buy a copy online, I received a different edition -- even when I sent a photo of the cover of the edition I sought. Eventually, I gave up.

Imagine my surprise last weekend when I visited NJ Audubon's Scherman-Hoffman Sancturay last weekend and found a pristine copy of that very edition in the gift shop's used books section.

Sometimes, when you wait long enough, good things come your way.





Today Is James Bond Day

Wright Rosate Spoonbill. IMG_9924
Today is James Bond Day, marking the premiere of  "Dr. No"  in 1962.

For those keeping score, Ian Fleming's 007 book of the same name had some excellent birding references.

In Dr. No, the sixth 007 novel, several birders, lots of birds and tons of bird guano play a major role. Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of Commander John Strangways, the head of MI6 Station there, and his secretary Mary Trueblood.

Upon his arrival, 007 learns that the disappearances are tied to mysterious goings-on on Crab Key, a British territory owned by Dr. Junius No. Half the island is an Audubon sanctuary for Roseate Spoonbills (above), and the other half is a guano mine.

When one of the wardens dies from bad burns sustained on the key, the Audubon Society goes to investigate, but their plane crash-lands on the island, killing the pilot and the two Audubon staffers.

The U.S. military looks into the crash but finds nothing suspicious. Bond eventually gets involved, and (spoiler alert again), Dr. No gets his due for killing that colony of beautiful spoonbills when 007 buries Dr. No alive with a load of the bird droppings -- far more poetic than the justice Dr. No received in the 1962 movie of the same name, when Bond boiled him alive in a nuclear reactor.

 The episode was inspired by a 1956 expedition that Fleming and his pal Ivar Bryce made to the southernmost Bahamas island of Inagua, near the northeast coast of Cuba. Wrote Bryce in his memoir, You Only Live Once:

“The remainder of Inagua is a large lagoon, a hundred square miles in area surrounded by impenetrable mangroves. No man lives there, but it is home to myriad upon myriad of water birds: flamingos, Louisiana herons, American egets, roseate spoonbills, stilts and a score of other species are there by the thousand.”