Bondi. Tyto alba bondi.
Did you know a subspecies of barn owl (Tyto alba bondi) is named after James Bond? James Bond the ornithologist that is.
The holotype specimen of Tyto alba bondi was collected by past Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator Arthur C. Twomey on April 7, 1947 at French Harbor, Isla Roatan, Honduras and later described by Kenneth C. Parkes, another curator at CMNH, together with Allan R. Phillips.
A soon-to-be-released book The Real James Bond: A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue and Ian Fleming tells the story of the ornithologist and author of Birds of the West Indies, and how his name became the name of Fleming’s incredibly popular epic thriller series. Fleming, an avid birder himself, admits to lifting the name directly from Birds of the West Indies and acknowledges that the real James Bond’s actions outshine anything the fictional James Bond has done.
The new book includes an image of museum specimen CM P131548, Tyto alba bondi, a subspecies first described in the Annals of the Carnegie Museum. It is endemic to Roatán and Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras.
Tyto alba bondi is not the only nod to birds that Ian Fleming made in his James Bond stories. Goldeneye is a species of duck, the name of Ian Fleming’s estate in Jamaica, and a 1995 James Bond movie. Not only that, in Die Another Day, 007 goes undercover in Cuba as an ornithologist, a nice little “Easter egg” for those who know the real story of James Bond.
Want to learn more about the James Bond Barn Owl? Consult the December 1978 issue of Annals of the Carnegie Museum, available online here.
Holotype of Tyto alba bondi. Parkes, Kenneth C., and Allan R. Phillips. 1978. Two new Caribbean subspecies of Barn Owl (Tyto alba) with remarks on variation in other populations. Annals Carnegie Museum, 479-492. Page 486, Published 1 December 1978.