Yes, you read that James Bond was a bird watcher. Of course, you may not be thinking of the same James Bond as I am. Perhaps you would be skeptical if I told you that the legendary fictional British agent 007 was named after a prominent British ornithologist. But it's entirely true. The tale of how this came about is an interesting story for both bird watchers and non birders alike. It happened this way:
What many people do not know is that Ian Flemming, the author of Casino Royale, the first book in the popular Bond series, was an avid bird watcher himself. It was while writing this book that Mr. Flemming discovered one of Mr. Bond's numerous books, 'Birds of the West Indies'. It struck Flemming that James bond was just the sort of name he was looking for. As Mr. Flemming put it in a letter to 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.''
Mr. Flemming continued:
''In return, I can only offer you or James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purposes you may think fit. Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.''
And there you have it. That is where agent 007 got his name. Oh, and James Bond was a bird watcher, after all. Now you know the story. You can view Mr. Bond's obituary, along with the above tale at the NY Times website, here.