Watching birds is good for you

15 March 2017 | Posted in Pete Crawford
Watching birds is good for you
female blackbird / www.natureconservationimaging.com/Jeremy Early

By Pete Crawford

Head of People and Wildlife

To a keen bird watcher, this may seem obvious. However research released last month has reinforced the message that daily connection with wildlife, close to home is beneficial to people and strengthens the case for high quality wildlife-rich local greenspaces.

People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to academics at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland.

The study, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

The study, which surveyed mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities, also found that those who spent less time out of doors than usual in the previous week were more likely to report they were anxious or depressed.

In the study, common birds including blackbirds, robins, blue tits and crows were seen. But the study did not find a relationship between the species of birds and mental health, but rather the number of birds they could see from their windows, in the garden or in their neighbourhood. So identification of the birds was not critical, just recognition of their presence.

University of Exeter research fellow Dr Daniel Cox, who led the study, said: "This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being".

"Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live".

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