Seeing Birds in Your Neighborhood Could Help With Depression and Anxiety

We’ve†known for a while now that getting outdoors and into nature offers a†vast array of†mental and physical benefits, with a growing body of research to back it up. Now, a new study suggests that venturing outdoors somewhere that has bird life or even simply looking out a window to watch birds can have a positive effect on our mental health.

Researchers from the University of Exeter asked 270 people to take a mental health survey, involving questions designed to measure their stress levels. They also looked closely at the number of birds and species types in one region, both during the morning and afternoon hours.

What they discovered was that the more birds people saw in the afternoon hours from their windows, in their gardens, or around their neighborhoods, the less they reported feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.†And if they weren’t able to spend as much time outdoors as they usually do, feelings of anxiety and depression increased.

Despite the wide range in bird species found in the region ó including blackbirds, crows, robins and blue tits ó the researchers could not find any links between bird species and mental health. But perhaps this is a good thing, because it suggests that no matter where you live and which species of birds you can find†in your area, you may be able to benefit from them. Likewise, not everyone†is familiar enough with different bird species to be able to identify them.

So when it comes to getting a mental boost†from bird watching, seeing more birds is apparently better ó regardless of species. And because†bird species identification isn’t so much an important factor in how bird watching affects our mental health, the findings suggest that it’s more about how we interact with birds that provides the benefits.

The researchers say that these findings uncover†some key components of nature that might offer us the most positive impact on our health. This could be valuable information for urban planners that want to incorporate the health benefits nature has to offer into their designs.

Besides of course making an effort to get outside and visit local parks, trails, gardens, and other green spaces that feature bird life, if you’re lucky enough to have a yard, there are lots of things you can do to safely invite more birds to come to you:

  • Keep bird feeders in your yard, safely away from windows. If you have a big enough yard, you can put bird feeders in trees or attach them to other windowless structures.
  • Add a bird bath. An elevated bird bath with clean water (ideally changed every couple of days) is a welcoming water source for birds that want to avoid predators.
  • Bring more plant and tree life into your yard. It’s no secret that birds love to hang out in trees and look anywhere they can for insects to eat, so adding a garden or planting more trees may encourage them to do so in your yard.
  • Turn your outdoor cat into an indoor one. If you have a cat that you let outside, you may want to consider keeping your feline family member†in the house if you want to attract more birds.

As spring draws nearer, you can bet that you’ll start seeing a lot more birds very soon. When you do, stop and take a moment to enjoy watching them. After all, it’s good for you!

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

85 comments

One Heart i
One Heart inc3 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Lindsay K
Lindsay Kemp3 months ago

I agree that seeing birds - and other wildlife in the garden and neighbourhood is helpful. Thanks for sharing.

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Tanya W
Tanya W3 months ago

I have planted many Australian Natives for the nectar and seed eating birds. I watch many species collecting material from my garden for nest building. There are honey eaters building a nest in the high mock orange bushes on my footpath. Last year a Bowerbird built a bower in my backyard. It went up and was levelled by the bird at the end of its use before I knew it...🐤🐦🐥

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Tanya W
Tanya W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing. I have a birdbath and a birdhouse that I hang a seed cake for little birds like double bar finches, which are my favourite birds. I see my birdbath used for bathing and drinking and social activities. The seed cake is finally been devoured but I have never seen which bird species is enjoying it. 🐣🐤

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Tanya W
Tanya W3 months ago

I do agree. I love watching the little and big birds in my own backyard 🐦🐥

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Janet B
Janet B3 months ago

Thanks

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Clare O
Clare O3 months ago

Birdwatching is good for you and if you improve the habitat to attract them, they win too.

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Clare O
Clare O3 months ago

You can easily download a chart of birds to identify them.

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Clare O
Clare O3 months ago

Keep the cat in during early morning if you can. That is when birds do most feeding.

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Jetana A
Jetana A3 months ago

Yes bird watching helps me get through the long months of depression. I attribute it to their lively natures and apparent joy in living.

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