How to Link Bird Benefits to Nature

The bubbling song of the Bobolink is one of spring’s first sounds in grasslands across the US. This unique North American species, nicknamed for its backwards-tuxedo, also winters in the grasslands of Bolivia, where ABC and Bolivian partner Asociacion Armonia protect habitat.

Even after controlling for other confounding factors, seeing and hearing birds was associated with improvements in mental wellbeing. This effect was greater among people with depression.

1. Boosts your immune system

Research has shown that interacting with nature can reduce stress and blood pressure levels, while improving immune system function. Forest bathing, or simply being in the presence of trees and nature, can decrease levels of cortisol, improve moods and stabilize heart rate.

A bird’s diet is packed with important nutrients, like zinc. This crucial trace mineral strengthens the First Line of Defense, reducing intestinal permeability and preventing harmful bacteria from entering the body. It also helps improve the weight of immune system organs such as the cloacal bursa, spleen and thymus.

Some birds, such as vultures in South Asia, help keep humans healthy by eating disease-causing bacteria and parasites. Other species, such as ducks, help control mosquito-borne diseases like yellow fever and malaria.

2. Reduces stress

Anyone who regularly spots birds knows intuitively that doing so lifts their mood and calms the mind. Birds are fascinating creatures with hilarious antics that can provide a real source of enjoyment. In fact, studies show that laughing reduces stress levels – so perhaps this is one reason why bird watchers are so happy!

Researchers asked participants to rate the joy they got from watching garden birds. They found that people who watched birds for the purpose of feeling pleasure reported increased wellbeing, lower levels of state anxiety and higher feelings of nature connection.

The benefits of seeing birds were independent of the other factors that influence wellbeing and nature connections, such as being near trees or water. These findings demonstrate the potential of focused birding to support healthy urban ecosystems.

3. Boosts your mood

It’s no secret that spending too much time staring at screens can have a negative impact on our health. Excessive screen time has been linked to sleep problems, obesity, neck and back issues, and even depression. So, giving your eyes and thumbs a break by unplugging from the tech can have big benefits, especially when you’re outdoors and surrounded by nature.

A new study from King’s College London found that seeing and hearing birds boosts our moods and mental wellbeing. The research used a smartphone app called Urban Mind to collect real-time reports of people’s mental wellbeing alongside their reports of seeing or hearing birdlife.

The results showed that both healthy participants and those with diagnosed depression reported improved moods following encounters with birds. The benefits also lasted hours.