Birdwatching is one of the fastest-growing hobbies around – with over 15 million people in the United States partaking in the activity. But is it for you and what are the benefits? There’s an app for that!
Getting outside and exploring the great outdoors became a sought after pastime during the pandemic. One of the hobbies that really took off was birdwatching. Being quiet, being present, being observant in nature in all seasons in the hope of catching a glimpse of a rare or migrating bird helped alleviate the stress and boredom of spending so much time indoors and fixated on screens. But there are ongoing physical and mental health benefits from this activity.
According to the folks behind Birda, a free, easy-to-use app which revolutionizes the birding experience, a recent study revealed that nine out of ten people had improved wellbeing after hearing birdsong! Birda — which is a birding app and social media platform — reminds us that time spent in nature, sunlight and fresh air should not be taken for granted, and comes with therapeutic benefits.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Sunlight during winter can play a big role in your mental health
Increased exposure to natural sunlight – particularly during the colder months – decreases incidences of seasonal affective disorder. This is partly due to the skin’s response to sunlight and vitamin D which can lead to a heightened mood. Scientists have extensively noted that outdoor activities like birding decreases mental illness, depression, and anxiety, and can increase our positive emotions – even our self esteem.
Not only that, the sounds of birdsong can also play a role in stress recovery and attention restoration – which is why students might listen to birdsong during a stressful study period, for example.
Getting away from our screens and immersing ourselves in the present
The end of the year can often be a busy period for people, with many tying up their loose ends before clocking off until the New Year. Work and academic burnout can also become increasingly prominent, with many people running out of steam and feeling more stressed and anxious during this period. With the average screen time in the US being around seven hours a day, according to DataReportal, it’s important to get outside and give yourself a break every so often.
When we’re looking around outside and birding, we are inevitably talking – discussions of our surroundings bring us closer together with those we share the experience with. It not only forces us to be better at communication, but also to take note of and appreciate our surroundings, and be more present in our lives – nature offers a chance to explore ourselves mentally while considering the environment physically.
Connecting with friends and family
Fueled by the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, many realized that when it comes to birding, much of its enjoyment comes from sharing the experience with your loved ones. A study from TalkClub even reveals that men in particular communicate best when doing activities – this could even be a great activity to do if you’re looking for your significant other to open up. Birding is a fantastic way to connect with our friends and families in a more active way than purely sitting down to have a meal.
For children, birding can also act as a tool to teach them all about the world they live in, open up their minds, and get them outside to discover new birds.
Simply watching birds can calm our minds
A study by Bioscience found that birding improves mental and physical health – with a reduction in anxiety, depression and stress. However, the main take-away from this report was that people don’t need to interact with the birds – people can actually significantly improve their mental health by just watching birds. A recent study found that nine in ten people had improved wellbeing after hearing birdsong. By distracting our brains from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and simply observing natural wildlife behavior, this lets our mind reset for a moment and take some time to unwind before returning back to reality.
Physical benefits of birding
Birdwatching isn’t always easy – trying to find that illusive Kingfisher or hiding in wait for the lapwings to land can be hard work. The CDC suggests we should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week – getting out and about while birding is a great way to do this. Getting our heart rate up helps our body move oxygen around our bodies more efficiently, burn calories, and lowers cholesterol – and you can do so all while exploring new places, discovering new wildlife and enjoying new experiences.
Birda – an innovative birding app for curious people who want to deepen their connection with the outdoors – aims to create an inclusive community to experience, enjoy, and protect the nature and wildlife wherever you are. Whether you live in the countryside or in the city, Birda allows users to explore and appreciate the nature that surrounds them through a free, easy-to-use tool for logging the birdlife around you – all you have to do is head out and look up.