Normally, every bird counts the same. Whether you see a common House Sparrow or a spectacular Narina Trogon, they both count the same: 1. I think’t that’s a bit unfair. So I came up with this twitching game, which is called “The Bird Nerd Game”. This game is really fun! Every bird in the book counts points. But…rare birds count more than common ones. And, for some special species, you also get bonus points! You can find a checklist in the back of Faansie’s Bird Book – A fully fledged field guide for kids. Or you can just download the list below. You will see numbers in the first column – those are the Bird Nerd scores. The absolute maximum that you can get is 2000. Mark the ones you have seen, and count up your total. It works like this:

The map colours work kinda like a traffic light. Birds with green maps are the common ones. They count 1 point. Example: Hadeda Ibis.

Birds with orange maps are uncommon. They count 2 points. You might see them once during a birding trip. Example: Marsh Owl.

Birds with red maps are rare. They count 3 points! You might see them only once or twice in your life. Example: Bat Hawk.

These are super-cool bonus birds. You can add 1 point to whatever its green, orange or red score is. Example: Alpine Swift.

These are endemic birds, which live only (or mainly) in South Africa. You get double points for them! There are 76 of them. Example: Cape White-eye.

There are only 20 of these. They are then Top 20 Trophy Birds. You get 20 points for each! Have you seen any of them? Example: Wandering Albatross.

The rules

  • You can only tick a bird if you are 100% sure that you identified it correctly.
  • You can only tick alive, wild, free-flying birds. Birds in cages don’t count! And dead birds definitely don’t count.
  • You have to see the bird (you can’t only hear it).
  • You can only tick the bird if you saw it inside the borders of South Africa, Lesotho or Swaziland. Birds seen in Zimbabwe, Namibia etc. don’t count, even if they are in this book.
  • Have fun!

Send in your score

If you are playing the Bird Nerd Game, why don’t you send your score to me? I’ll put it in the list at the bottom of this page. Just send me an email (to, with these details:

  • Your Name
  • Your lifelist (the number of species you’ve seen)
  • Your Bird Nerd Score
  • Your favourite bird
  • The bird you would most love to see one day (Top Target)

The list

The list of birds that you will find in the back of Faansie’s Bird Book is not the same as other checklists. It only includes birds that occur in SOUTH AFRICA (and not our neighbouring countries). Also, it does not include the super-rare vagrants that very few birders have seen. The total for the Bird Nerd list is 722 species – I think you’ll agree that that is enough to keep you busy! You can download the list right here…


This is a 4-page A4 document. You can just print it at home.


Hierdie is ‘n 4-bladsye A4 lys. Jy kan dit sommer by die huis druk.


If you print this on A3, and do some basic origami, you’ll end up with a nice little checklist that you can slip into the plastic sleeve of your copy of Faansie’s Bird Book. For instructions on the printing and folds, click here.


Laat hierdie druk op ‘n A3 papier. Dan moet jy bietjie origami (voukuns) doen. As alles reg loop, sal jy eindig met ‘n netjiese klein, voubare afmerklysie wat jy in die plastiese omslag van jou Faansie se Voëlboek kan inglip. Vir intruksies, kliek hier.


I don’t like math very much. So I made this easy-peasy Excel spreadsheet which will count up your totals automatically. Lazy bones. If it doesn’t work for some reason, find block H731 and type =SUM(D5:D726). Then in the one below it, type =SUMIFS(B5:B726;D5:D726;”=1″).

The players

To get things started, I’ve put my two kids’ scores in. Send me yours too!

Christian Peacock 36 53 Pied Avocet Crowned Eagle
Owen Peacock 20 28 Bokmakierie African Scops Owl
Lihan Archer 161 294
Rourke Schwartz 173 51 Narina Trogon
Broad-billed Roller
Racket-tailed Roller
European Bee-eater
S Carmine Bee-eater
Aiden Pienaar 198 321 Peregrine Falcon Mountain Wheatear