Birds are good for mental health

A young cardinal stopped by again.

I have seen several articles the past few days about how listening to bird songs or watching birds is good for mental health. There’s been a number of studies from the US to Finland that back this up.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been in a good mood lately? It certainly doesn’t hurt to enjoy my Bird Buddy feeder with a camera or sit in the backyard and listen to birds.

My phone alerted me to a story about studies connecting better mental health to birds in the Washington Post. It’s behind a paywall so I didn’t read it. But I did read one by Desert News called “Being around birds can boost mental health, studies say” by Britney Heimuli.

Here’s an excerpt:

Two studies, published last year in Scientific Reports, named something that may improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and paranoia: being around birds.

The Washington Post said, “In one study, researchers asked about 1,300 participants to collect information about their environment and well-being three times a day using a smartphone app called Urban Mind.”

The Post said the data collected, which included other variants like sleep and air quality, showed seeing or hearing birds had a positive association with improved mental well-being in participants.

“Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being. These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression,” according to that report.

Another study the Post reported showed that, out of 295 online participants who were asked to self-assess their emotional state, those who were randomly assigned to listen to different kinds of bird songs reported reduced depressive symptoms and a decrease in feelings like anxiety and paranoia.

A house sparrow.

Not the most attractive bird but a frequent visitor — a curve-bill thrasher. I wonder how he got his name? /s

It does make sense that connecting with birds helps our mental health. I think being outside in nature does that with or without birds.

In an article from Time Magazine called “Birdwatching Has Big Mental-Health Benefits” by Angela Haupt said:

Researchers have long sought to understand the perks of observing birds. A study published in October in Scientific Reports found that seeing or hearing birds improved people’s mental wellbeing for up to eight hours. Nearly 1,300 people used a smartphone app to log their mood several times a day, noting whether they could see or hear birds. People with depression, as well as those without a mental-health condition, experienced significant improvements in wellbeing when they had these encounters. The benefits weren’t explained by other environmental factors, like seeing trees, plants, or water, all of which the study controlled for.

My question is why? Why do birds help our mental health? Is it being outside? Is it some connection we have to birds? What are your thoughts?

A video of a house sparrow at our Bird Buddy.

36 thoughts on “Birds are good for mental health

  1. I love your bird buddy photos…I can’t say that enough! And the timing of your post – sharing the research – is perfect. We’re basically living upstairs right now because of our remodeling projects and last night I shushed the hubster 😉 because I heard birdsongs that were entirely unrecognizable and so charming. It was close to dusk and although we tried to lay eyes on them, the commotion we heard seemed to be about tucking babies into the nest. Almost as if mom/dad decided to quiet the little chirpers with a lullaby. They’ve probably been doing this forever, but I’ve never been upstairs near that tree…that window before as the sun went down. Boy – we’ve been missing out! I think that’s the appeal for me. Birds/birdsongs = magic. 🥰

    • The birdsongs are magic. I wonder if there is something deep inside our brains that we connect to? Maybe we’re intent on figuring out what they’re communicating? I love that you’re upstairs to hear birds and created the story of them tucking their babies into their nest. 😊

  2. Every time I see those cardinals I immediately think Kramer now and laugh! That puts me in a good mood no matter what 🙂

    • I’m glad you get a smile and laugh over Kramer. I do too! I wonder if the cardinals will stay through the summer or if they migrate? This year, I’ll find out.

  3. I read an article recently (though I don’t recall where) that theorized that many of us now live in cities and suburbs away from nature, and birds are some of the few wild creatures that not only breach that boundary between wild and developed, but make themselves known through their birdsong. For many, singing birds are their only bridge to nature. Perhaps, as humans, that connection to nature is more important than we know.

    • Yes! I did read something like that too. I am sure the connection to nature is more important to human than we know. When we hike trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, I feel a wave of relief wash over me. I feel recharged for the week.

  4. The birds are always so smart. I loved belonging to the Audubon Society. I stopped going as I got busy but I don’t know who was more interesting-the birds or the people in the club. Husband is out getting new floor and then someone will install. What a day!

      • Yes, expensive and then our workman to install. Challenging! On all counts as the person who helps us is getting older. It is hard to find a good price and the right person and as it turns out from my husband’s phone calls, the right flooring at the right price and a good style. Whew! I stayed home as I had some things to finish and my hip is hurting a lot.

  5. In answer to your question-I found the birdwatchers distracted me as the writer within was wondering ‘What is up with that?’ and we went to interesting places, almost desolate settings in Florida to view unusual birds.

  6. You mentioned your son was involved with getting bird buddy off the ground, right? You should get a part of the profit. Your posts are making me want to become a bird watcher. Beautiful shots Elizabeth! Very calming.

    • The company he works for did get Bird Buddy off the ground, but unfortunately they didn’t get their new products, a hummingbird feeder and bird bath. Kickstarter got it 😢 I’m glad you like the photos! It makes bird watching really interesting.

  7. I like to listen to the bird song at dawn and dusk. It’s like they are singing praises to the Almighty. Each bird had a different note and tune.

  8. We always had bird feeders growing up. Loved watching the birds, and my parent’s have bird feeders now right outside their kitchen window, so they can watch them when eating. I agree with the study, there is something about birds that make you feel good. I remember camping trips and watching the birds. I love to go outside first thing in the morning and sit on the patio listening to the birds sing.
    I don’t know if I can pinpoint a reason to why birds are good for mental health, but I believe pretty much all animals are. We enjoy watching them in their natural enviroment. So many studies about dogs and cats have been done as well and I totally agree there. Have had dogs all my life! Animals of all kinds are a blessing, well… I could do without the spiders though. LOL! Seeing them does not improve my mental health!

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