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

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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.

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Helping Nature in the Caribbean

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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.
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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.

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Real James Bond & the Bahama Nuthatch

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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 Real James Bond & the Bahama Parrot

The Bahama Parrot                                                                          Photo credit: Bahamas.com

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.

I've found that when it comes to researching birds in the West Indies, James Bond's name usually lurks somewhere.

The Bahama Parrot, a.k.a. the Abaco Parrot, recently in the news because of Hurricane Dorian, is a case in point.

Continue reading "The Real James Bond & the Bahama Parrot" »


A Pileated Make an Appearance

_MG_9641I hadn't seen a Pileated Woodpecker all year. Now -- thanks to some friends -- I saw one twice in one day.

This one was next to my backyard. Whenever I see one, I think that it's the closest I'll ever come to seeing an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

The real James Bond admired them so much that he put one on the back cover of the 1947 edition of "The Birds of the West Indies" (below left), even if the chances of seeing one were remote at best. Earl Poole did the illustration.

If you'd like to learn how to pronounce "Pileated," read this.


My First Talk Is Two Weeks Away!

1969 James Bond ANSP Archives Coll. 457

I am very excited about the launch event for my book at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

The event will include my talk, a short question-and-answer session with Academy's Nate Rice, a book signing, and displays of James Bond memorabilia -- including first editions and birds he collected for science (still used for research today).

The photo above (from ANSP Archives Coll. 457) is of Bond in 1969 in his office at the Academy.

You can reserve a seat here.