I enjoy birdwatching because I admire each bird’s unique personality and characteristics, and they’re just beautiful to look at.
But did you ever stop and think about the benefits birdwatching provides beyond being nature’s visual aesthetic treats?
Some people love grabbing their binoculars and heading out to see the latest rarity, and others enjoy birding their local bird patch.
And others thrive on the challenge of seeing how many different varieties of birds they can attract to their backyard bird feeders.
Birdwatching gets you moving, gets you outdoors, and piques your interest in the endless beautiful species of birds you’ll find.
Birdwatching Beneficial to Health and Happiness
In 2017, researchers in Great Britain found that people who watch birds from their homes have a lower risk for depression, stress, and anxiety compared to people who live in less leafy areas with fewer birds.
We all have different reasons why we enjoy seeing birds.
The good news is that birding brings you enjoyment and in return, provide you with essential health benefits.
Chances are you probably overlook many of them, so let’s take a look at the inherent health benefits.
Greater Appreciation for Nature
Birdwatching inspires us to enjoy a harmonious union with nature.
We spend an incredible amount of time in the great outdoors soaking up vitamin D from the sun, breathing fresh air enjoying nature.
Our love of birds inspires a passion for the love of all nature and wildlife, and we act as stewards of the natural world, ensuring we pass this love onto to future generations to enjoy.
Increased Cardiovascular Health
Think about the distances you walk or hike just for the chance of seeing a bird.
Check your Apple watch or fitness watch next time you go out, and the distance might surprise you.
Many birds are nestled deep in nature and are inaccessible to most humans.
Other bird species live high-up on cliffs and mountainsides, and you need to hike and climb just for a chance to see them.
Part of being a birder means pushing ourselves to the limits and setting our sights on birds that are far off the beaten path.
So we get a lot of exercise.
And when we exercise, levels of serotonin and dopamine rise, making us feel good, and levels of cortisol that make us feel stressed are lowered.
So even if you hike 5 miles for the chance of seeing a rarity and you don’t see it, the bird was the catalyst to get outside in the fresh air and exercising without thinking about it as “exercise.”
Positive Self Esteem
One of the greatest attributes about birdwatching is that you never know what you might see next.
Each day is a new discovery and seeing something new, and unexpected restores your optimism and self-esteem.
And drives you to enjoy a renewed sense of purpose.
Living in the Moment
Everyday life is fast and frantic, and we find ourselves tethered to digital devices that prevent us from shutting off.
These tendencies can cause stress, which increases the risk for us to be predisposed to many illnesses.
Watching birds, interacting with them, listening to their songs, and spending time outdoors helps relieve stress and promote well-being.
Everyone needs to take time to unplug, turn off their digital devices, and live on the moment.
Whether you choose to watch birds with your binoculars or scopes or take photos, watching birds is calming and relaxing and gives you a sense of peace and tranquility.
Those things that cause us stress will still be there, so it’s important to stop thinking about all those things and instead try focusing on the moment.
READ: LIVING LIKE A BIRD
Increased Mental Alertness
A bird can be here one second and then fly off in the blink of an eye.
Birdwatchers need to be mentally alert to decipher clues about birds that might be close by anticipating their movements.
It could be detecting a simple rustle of leaves, or hearing a faint bird call.
The decisions we make can be the difference between taking a photo capturing a once-in-a-lifetime moment or missing it entirely and wondering what could have been.
Test of Patience
The first thing I learned when I got into birds was that this hobby is not for those who want instant gratification.
Becoming a good birdwatcher means familiarizing yourself with different types of birds, learning where they’re found and understanding their tendencies out in the wild.
We spend hours hiking or driving to a location and then waiting in the hope of catching a glimpse of the bird in question.
Birdwatching is truly a test of patience.
I tell people birdwatching is more challenging than golf because it’s a hobby based entirely on unpredictability.
After taking the time tracking a bird, lining up the perfect shot and then watching the bird fly off in a millisecond, and you have nothing to show for it other than a beautiful photo of a branch to share on your Instagram feed.
And speaking from your memory of the photo that almost was.
More importantly, the simple act of finding and observing birds helps strengthen your attention span and sharpens your patience threshold and powers of observation.
Greater Upper Arm Strength
No matter where we birdwatch, we often carry binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras with heavy lenses and a monopod or tripod with us.
And that means lots of lifting and trekking to our destination with all this heavy stuff.
At intoBirds, we carry our binoculars weighing 1.5 lbs, and our cameras, Nikon D5500 with a Tamron 150-600mm lens and Sirui monopods weighing close to 8 lbs.
So after a few trips, we’re quickly building up our arm strength.
Roll up your sleeve and take a look at your arms. Chances are they’re a bit more toned than someone who isn’t a birder.
Weak arms lead to shaky viewing, and everyone wants that crystal-clear, Audubon-quality photo.
Holding binoculars or a camera with a heavy lens for an extended period increases arm strength and make you a bit more buff.
Achieving the State of Zen
Ask any birdwatcher, and they will tell you that birdwatching is a very meditative activity.
We spend long bouts of time in the quiet of the great outdoors without the natural indulgence of distractions.
It just feels great to be unplugged from the digital world and in touch with your senses.
Birdwatching is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your life or to just zone out and think calming thoughts.
Of course, if you scroll back to my point about birdwatching being a test of patience, you can say this is an oxymoron.
But if you forget about the missed sighting and photographs, and reflect on the joys you feel birdwatching, then you can achieve a state of Zen.
It’s an incredible feeling to enjoy something you love and knowing it’s a win-win all around.
You win because birdwatching has a positive effect on your health.
The birds win because your actions and attentive care help advocate for nature and wildlife to help protect their natural riches for future generations to come.
So grab a pair binoculars, head to your favorite place to see birds and look up to be transported to this fantastic world leaving your troubles behind.
Now get out and see birds!