Faansie Peacock* started birding when he was five, and has been trying to quit for about thirty years. It doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen, so now he makes a living as a professional birder. He has written and illustrated a bunch of books about birds: Pipits of Southern Africa (2006), The Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng (2008), Chamberlain’s LBJs (2012) and Chamberlain’s Waders (2014). He acted as the scientific consultant for Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa (2010) and editor for the Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (2015). He has also written loads of scientific papers, blog posts (read them all here) and magazine articles – you can catch his articles in every month’s WEG/GO Magazine. He loves telling stories about birds, and has spoken to thousands of people about more than thirty birdy topics.
Faansie previously worked as the Curator of Birds at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (formerly Transvaal Museum). Here he was responsible for looking after a collection of about 60 000 bird specimens. One of his day-to-day activities included dissecting and stuffing birds – some of the more interesting species were Taita Falcon, Sooty Tern, River Warbler and European Honey Buzzard. He was also responsible for presenting behind-the-scenes tours, databasing, art exhibitions, Night at the Museum events, genetic sampling, research and, sometimes field work (even if only to capture pigeons that flew into the building).
Faansie has birded in Madagascar, Spain, Thailand, Australia, Israel and lots of other places across the world, but his favourite birding spot is West Coast National Park – in fact, he lives within walking distance of this park, in the town of Langebaan. He says it’s really difficult to get any work done when there is always something in the garden that distracts him: rain frogs, snakes, tortoises, antelope, a fox, and, of course, plenty of awesome birds!
Faansie met his wife Ronél when they were kids – for their first date in high school, he took her to see a Red-chested Flufftail. On their wedding day, she showed him a Dusky Lark outside the church. Two young males recently joined the Peacockidae familie. Choosing names for their sons was a challenge for Faansie and Ronel. Because their surname is already that of a bird, they didn’t want to overburden the kids with obvious bird names. Eventually they chose Regulus – the scientific name of tiny little songbirds called firecrests – as a second name for their son Christian; the name means “Little King”. His younger brother Owen’s second name is Callum – the humble but inspirational dove (see blog post: Owen Callum Peacock).
*yes, that is his real name.