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How Birds Can Help Boost Your Mood

9, May 2024

How Birds Can Help Boost Your Mood

A new study just found that birdwatching helped reduce distress and improve mental health in US university students. Birdwatching can be a great way to get outside, enjoy physical exercise and (if in a group), meet new people. But how might our feathered friends in particular have the power to help us feel better?

Nature Connectedness

Nature Connectedness

It's common knowledge that time spent in the great outdoors is good for you – but there’s a difference between just being in Nature and connecting with it, as this article by Professor Miles Richardson explains.

Richardson leads the pioneering Nature Connectedness Research Group at the University of Derby. The group research how improving human beings’ relationships with Nature has positive effects on both individuals’ mental wellbeing and biodiversity itself. It’s simple, really: the more we appreciate Nature, the more we want to protect it. What’s one of the easiest and most accessible ways to connect with and appreciate Nature? Yep, you guessed it: birdwatching.



Practising mindfulness is all about focusing on the current moment, and not worrying about the past or the future. And what better way to ground yourself in the present than to spend time in a tranquil location, observing the birds coming and going? Base yourself on a riverbank and look out for geese, ducks and dippers. Or head to your nearest woods and watch the woodland birds. Even if you live in an urban area, you’ll find plenty of bird activity in parks and around canals.

If you want to focus deeply on avian activity in a quiet spot, and have access to a pair of binoculars, hunker down in a bird hide. The RSPB and WWT both have plenty of sites with hides throughout the UK, giving you a peaceful place to forget your worries and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of birds.


Birds in flight

Birds are awesome. And watching them closely gives you a real insight into just how awesome they are. From nurturing new life by building intricately-woven nests, to swooping en-masse in spectacular murmurations, these incredible creatures can provide us with some real ‘wow’ moments.

Experiencing awe can make our own everyday concerns feel less significant. In fact, awe has been linked to enhanced wellbeing and even expand our perception of time. And scientists have found that going on an ‘awe walk’ can help us feel more grateful and less stressed.

From the majestic take-off of a heron to the dazzling colours of a kingfishers’ plumage, there are plenty of examples of avian awe just waiting to be witnessed.



It’s not all about looking at birds, though; listening to them can do wonders for our wellbeing too. A 2022 study found that hearing birds can help boost people’s mood. And in 2020, when pandemic restrictions meant that birdsong was louder, a survey by the Natural History Museum found that people found birdsong ‘comforting’ and ‘calming’.

Birdsong is all around us, even in cities, but it can become a background sound that we might not even notice. Taking the time to tune into it and pick out the calls of different birds can be an uplifting experience. Set an alarm and get up early to hear the concert of a dawn chorus. Download the Chirpomatic app, which lets you record birdsong and identify it.

Although it’s no replacement for listening to birds in Nature, swapping calming music for a birdsong playlist means you can enjoy the benefits of their soothing serenades wherever you are.

How to Start Birdwatching

How to Start Birdwatching

You don’t have to be an expert ornithologist to go birdwatching. Begin by heading out to your nearest green or blue space, finding a comfortable place to sit and noticing the birds and their calls. 

Feeding the birds brings them closer to you and allows you to keep a close eye on them and their behaviours. It’s also a perfect opportunity to give back to wildlife, which can be very rewarding.

If you’d like to learn about birds in more detail and share your awe for them with others, search online for birdwatching groups in your area.

Keep a visual and / or written record of your discoveries and how they make you feel through Nature journalling.  Enjoy your new hobby and the benefits the birds bring!