Firefinch is a beautifully designed, fun and easy-to-use birding app that will ignite an appreciation of birds and a celebration of the wild landscapes of Southern Africa. Join author and artist Faansie Peacock and the Firefinch community and embark on your birding adventure…whether you’re a fledgling or top twitcher.



FIREFINCH at a glance

Dawn Chorus

What sets FIREFINCH apart from other existing apps is the subscription component. Instead of purchasing a once-off static product that invariably becomes outdated, FIREFINCH will updatable every time you hit wifi. Not only will this keep you up to date with the latest new species, sightings, news and events, but FIREFINCH features weekly articles by Faansie Peacock and other top birders. These posts will cover anything and everything bird-related. Beginners can look forward to loads of practical, useful tips on where to start; intermediate birders can learn how to progress to the next level; and experts will enjoy more complicated discussions on ID and taxonomy. 

A big thanks to everyone who contributed so far, including Etienne Marais, Hugh Chittenden, Richard Flack, Dewald Swanepoel, Rob Cliff, Hamman Prinsloo, Francois du Plessis, Anton Kruger and many more and many more! If you want to share something with the ever-growing FIREFINCH community let me know!

If you haven’t downloaded FIREFINCH yet, you’re missing out on great content!

You can read an example post here (about a friend I made in Lockdown). Or listen to it podcast style!

Here are a few of the topics we talked about recently:

Birding is supposed to be fun!

What do you get when you put an ornithologist, a photographer and two techie brothers in a room? Leave that decidedly non-volatile cocktail on low heat for about four years, and stir occasionally. Well, when we decided to produce a bird app, it was around the time of the annual African Birdfair in Jo’burg. So we made a giant vision board and lots of questionnaires, and asked you what we should do. From that valuable information, FIREFINCH was incubated. 

FIREFINCH is not a standard, quick-ID bird app. It is a celebration. A declaration of the love for birds that we all share. An appreciation of the wild places and landscapes of Africa. And a fireside recap of a day spent in the bush with friends.

Birding is supposed to be fun. There is a strong scientific background, but you certainly don’t have to be an ornithologist to enjoy – and understand – birds. It doesn’t even matter if you know the name of the bird – as long as you enjoy watching it. Whether it’s a majestic Bearded Vulture soaring over the Drakensberg escarpment, or a gentle wagtail strolling around beneath the restaurant table. 

We’ve tried to keep that in mind throughout. We’ve done our best to avoid scientific jargon, colour names that no-one really understands, and and overwhelming amount of technical information. In fact, you won’t find text write-ups in the app. All the key information is right there on the plate or photo. Not to mention a wealth of interesting did-you-knows and top tips. Everything is presented as visually as possible, with a liberal brush of artistic flair and a sprinkling of humour. You’ll bump into lots of little stories and anecdotes too.

FIREFINCH is also the start of a journey. From the outset, we agreed that we don’t want to have the app identify birds for you. Because where’s the fun in that? Instead, we’ll embark on a journey together to learn how to identify birds confidently, and have lots of fun along the way.

So let’s go birding!

Painting 1000 plates

Painting high quality plates for almost 1,000 species has been an immense job, spanning nearly four years. But, even if I do say so myself, I am very proud of the final illustrations. I’ve tried to find that elusive balance between depicting significant variation but still keeping the plates from becoming overwhelming. Nevertheless the plates average more depictions of each species than any other existing local field guide. 

And I am particularly proud of the little sideline vignettes showing the birds as you would really see them in the field, or engaged in some sort of activity or interaction. I’ve also tried to show the typical habitat of each species where space permitted. 

And the best thing is that FIREFINCH can pretty much immediately add any new species – be they splits or unexpected vagrants such as the recent Crested Honey Buzzard, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Madagascar Pratincole, Mascarene Petrel or Christmas Island Frigatebird.

Which plates are your favourites? Here are some of mine…

African Pitta
Lilian’s Lovebird
Racket-tailed Roller
Double-banded Sandgrouse
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Lesser Moorhen
White-backed Night Heron
Red-crested Korhaan
Pale Chanting Goshawk
African Finfoot
Booted Eagle
Maccoa Duck
African Crake
Ant-eating Chat
Knysna Woodpecker
Cape Crow
Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike
Blue Waxbill
Alpine Swift
Great Frigatebird