Wingspan Bird Game (Board + On-Line)

Jumping off from an old thread about computer games based on actual habitats… I’ve recently discovered Wingspan, a very engrossing (=addictive!) strategy card game about building a nature reserve for birds.

Quick summary: there are 170 species to play in three habitats: forest, grassland and wetland. Each bird has specific food and nesting characteristics, and most have a special ‘power’ that activates when you make another action in the habitat. For example: if you have a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher in the forest habitat, the Gnatcatcher allows you to pull a food token (an invertebrate) that you can then use to feed another bird. The possible interactions ripple out more and more as you and other players add birds to your habitats.

Aside from the game’s incredible ability to chew up free time during pandemic lockdowns (!), it’s also a beautifully-designed thing. The illustrated bird cards in the original physical board game are lovely and accurately depict the 170 species. The on-line version reproduces the cards faithfully and adds song/call recordings for each bird. The recordings play in the background as the game continues, and for me that’s the most enjoyable element. It’s also the most useful in a meta way: anyone wanting to learn the calls and songs of these species will know them cold after playing a couple dozen games.

The game bills itself as “relaxing” and the game play is basically collaborative not competitive. Many of the bird powers give the same benefit to all players.

TL;DR: Wingspan is highly recommended by this previously-non-gaming birder.


I’ve only seen good recommendations about it from non-birding gaming reviewers, so it should be awesome!


I love Wingspan! Highly recommended, both online or in person. The expansions are fun too. I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting the designer Elizabeth Hargrave and play testing it and some expansions.


I got it for Christmas but haven’t played it yet. Hopefully it’s as good as it sounds!


@carrieseltzer That’s amazing - play-testing the expansions would be so much fun, because what do birders want? More birds! I understand there will be future expansions covering every continent. (I have the European expansion but haven’t branched out to the Oceania expansion yet.)

I think a brilliant addition would be an expansion just on extinct birds. That would be a unique way to honor and learn about the species we’ve lost. I believe there is even a sound recording of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker that could be used in the on-line version.

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My favorite board game. It is amazing and accurate. I got it as a birthday present from my mom’s cousin who preordered it.

It’s the best, buy it!

Absolutely love it! It was always the go-to in our field site bunkhouse and have a couple sets of it out for students to borrow from my class.

The online version has struck me as a bit fiddly but still worth a go

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I have not seen or played it. But, while searching online (for free one-player print-and-play games) I found this guy. He is very entertaining. He reviewed the game. So, this might be worth watching.
If you like his presentation style, be sure to go to his YouTube channel. I played some videos just because he is fun to watch.

(He also has two videos on his YouTube channel for free solo print-and-play games that are worth exploring during this lockdown time.)

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