James Bond was born in Philadelphia on January 4, 1900. His education began at the Delancey School and then later the prestigious St. Paul’s school in Concord, New Hampshire. After Bond’s mother passed away, he and his father left the area and moved to England where James entered Harrow and then Cambridge University. He received his B.A. in 1922 and remained in England for eight years until moving back to Philadelphia. Bond’s first position post-college was in the Foreign Exchange Department of the Pennsylvania Company, a banking firm. But it wasn’t long until his childhood passion for natural history took over and he resigned from the bank in 1925, less than three years after taking the position. Bond promptly accepted an invitation to accompany Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee on a collecting expedition of the lower Amazon River, Brazil, an assignment from the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia (ANSP). Field notes from this trip were incorporated into a report written by Witmer Stone, Curator of Birds at the ANSP.
Bond continued to publish papers on South American birds which were based on specimens in the ANSP collection and not his own field work. He soon determined that it was birds of the Caribbean Island that was really his passion and would become his life’s work. Bond’s “Check-List of Birds of the West Indies,” published by the ANSP, appeared in four successive editions, the last in 1956 and included a series of 27 Supplements, published 1956-1987. The first version of his book, “Birds of the West Indies” was published in 1936 and was later converted into a more modern field guide with color plates by Don Eckelberry in 1947. Before his death, Bond completed 6 editions of this field guide.
In 1953, Bond married Mary Fanning Wickham Porcher Lewis, a published poet and novelist and widow of a prominent Philadelphia Lawyer. Soon after, Bond learned the British novelist Ian Fleming, who was a bird-watcher, had taken his name from his field guide and used it for his fictional character in Casino Royal. This novel was later made into a movie series which became an internationally recognized name and part of pop-culture.
Bond joined the American Ornithologists’ Union in 1923, became a Member in 1929 and elected a fellow in 1946. Bond published about thirty papers on birds of the West Indies and peripheral islands and about six papers on the birds of Maine. He also received the Musgrave Medal of the Institute of Jamaica (1953), the Wilderness Club (Philadelphia) Medal (1961), and the Leidy Medal of the ANSP (1975) among others.
Bond died on February 14th, 1989 after a long battle with cancer.
To learn more about James Bond please visit: Auk vol. 106