The new bird board game you should be playing
You play a bird call on your phone: Kweh kweh! You take a guess: grey go-away bird? Correct! You move your token forward. Like most board games, the aim of Bird Safari is to reach the final block as fast as possible. When it’s your turn, you have to identify a bird from a photo, or identify a bird call played on an app, or take a guess based on a teammate’s description of a bird. If you correctly identify the bird, you can move your token (in the shape of a gameviewing vehicle) to the next block, otherwise you have to stay where you are until you get it right.
The game is the brainchild of the Big Year group, a bunch of South African friends who enjoy birding. The group was established by Carlie Jordaan (see below) and inspired by the film of the same name.
Not everyone knows birds as well as the Big Year group, so the game has cards for different levels. Beginners can play with the Level 1 cards – they feature obvious birds like Egyptian goose, pied crow and ostrich. The levels go all the way up to 4, for serious twitchers, who are comfortable telling an African pipit from a tawny-flanked prinia. You can stick to a certain level or mix up the deck.
It’s great fun for the whole family or for a group of friends, and it should help foster a love for our feathered friends. Take it along on your next holiday, whether you’re heading to the Kruger Park for three weeks or to Langebaan for the weekend. loosely acquainted. When we started, the youngest participant was seven years old; the oldest was 72.
Where did the idea for the board game come from? After the excitement of the Big Year, our lives suddenly felt very dull. One day my aunt Antoinette van Eeden called me and suggested we design a board game. I agreed immediately!
How did you design the game? The Jordaans and Van Eedens each made a concept game using cardboard. At a family braai, everyone played a round, from grandma to the grandchildren. After we decided on the final form of the game, we approached our friends for feedback and tweaked it a little more. Then we contacted a designer and three years later, a thousand games arrived at the Durban harbour.
How did BirdLife SA get involved? We wanted to donate a percentage of profits to conservation, so we approached them. They reviewed and adjusted the game somewhat and then endorsed it. You can buy the game at their shop in Johannesburg (17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West, Randburg) or send an e-mail to shopforthebirds@ birdlife.org.za. BirdLife SA receives R30 for every game sold.
What’s next? Ha! I’m a full-time architecture student and my aunt has just had a baby. But still, we hope to develop extra card sets or even an app in the future.
Favourite bird? Southern whitefaced scops-owl. We started our Big Year in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier
Park. One day we were on our way to Mata-Mata when I saw two big orange eyes in a bush. I’ll never forget that moment.
Favourite birding spot? The Kruger Park. You can see as many as 100 species in four days, especially in summer when the green foliage complements the colourful breeding plumage of the birds.
Another favourite is Kwa Nokeng Lodge on the Botswana border. Even though I’d already seen 305 species by the time we visited, I saw six new species in one morning there. I even heard the call of a Pel’s fishing-owl.
Where can I buy the board game? Order it at birdsafari.co.za for
R500 (excluding delivery).
Who started the Big Year group? SMS the keyword BIRD, followed by your answer, to 35695 (R1,50 per SMS; free SMSes don’t apply).
Closing date: 17 July 2020.