Birds of the West Indies by James Bond

The version of the book as seen in the movie Die Another Day

Birds of the West Indies is known not only for its exhaustive study of Caribbean birds, but also because the name of the book's author, the ornithologist James Bond, which was used by Ian Fleming for the name of his fictional British secret agent, Commander James Bond.

The book has become a collector's item amongst Bond fans and was featured as an homage in the twentieth James Bond film, Die Another Day when Bond poses as an ornithologist while in Cuba. The book with the cover as seen in Die Another Day (see photo on the left) is hard to find. You can try eBay, or where some older versions will sometimes be offered.

Fleming, a keen bird watcher while living at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, owned the book. He later explained that he chose the name of its author for the hero of his first Bond novel Casino Royale in 1953, because he wanted a name that sounded 'as ordinary as possible'. Fleming wrote to the real Bond's wife, "It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born."

First published in 1936, the second edition (1947) was titled Field Guide To Birds Of The West Indies: A Guide To All The Species Of Birds Known From The Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles and Bahama Islands. The book is still in print by the Peterson field guide company under the title, Birds of the West Indies.

From Grand Bahama Island in the north to Grenada in the south, this guide covers a tropical avifaunal region which includes such species as the tiny bee hummingbird, parrots, honey-creepers and todies. For every resident species there are notes on diagnostic characters, local names, voice, habitat, identification and range.

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