Why Bird Watching Is A Good Hobby
To the millions of bird watchers worldwide it’s a surprise that we even have to explain why bird watching is a good hobby. They are all aware of the peace, tranquility and pleasure that can be achieved just by watching birds. This article is all about the reasons bird watching is a great way to spend your free time, if you don’t want to get a great new hobby then stop reading now.
What Do You Need To Be A Bird Watcher?
There are only three things needed to become a bird watcher, they are;
- Free Time
- Your Eyes
What is free time? Many people have more free time than they realise but choose to do nothing with it. Free time can be your lunch break at work, an hour or two on the weekend when there’s nothing to do, there are so many times which could be called free time. When you do get an hour or so, just go outside into the car park, garden, park, or even a field and stand quietly.
Be aware of your surroundings and watch, before long you’ll see movement right at the edge of your vision. Nine times out of ten, that’ll be the birds foraging for food or putting on a display for their courting ritual or looking for their mate or teaching their young to fly and fend for themselves.
What Is Bird Watching?
Bird watching is the activity of watching birds and you’re probably already doing it. Every time you go outside you probably see birds, but if you took slightly more interest, you’d open up a whole new world. Use your eyes and actually look closely into the bushes and trees and follow the flight of some of the birds across the skies.
Be patient and they will put on a display for you. Even in your own back garden, there will be some bird activity.
What Are The Benefits Of Bird Watching?
There are many benefits to bird watching and some are more obvious than others, here’s our top 11 reasons bird watching is good for you.
- It Gets You Fit
To be a good bird watcher you’ll need to walk some distance into woods, open fields etc, all that exercise whilst carrying a pair of binoculars, and a backpack packed with a flask, sandwiches and notepad and pen will help you to work up a sweat and get your cardiovascular system moving.
- Relieves Stress
All of that physical activity helps our body to shred stress, and it’s well known now that stress causes headaches, energy loss, stomach upsets, aches and pains, lack of sleep, and prolonged stress levels can lead to cardiovascular disease, sexual dysfunction, obesity, skin and hair problems, gastrointestinal illnesses and more.
Bird watching and being immersed in nature increases relaxation which is the true enemy of stress.
- Improves Mental Acuity
Ask any bird watcher to describe their hobby and you’ll almost always hear words like peaceful, calm, relaxing and stress free. Bird watching removes you from your stressful situations either at work or at home or even in the shops, and places you in a world without stress. Fresh air, open spaces, peace and quiet, and you have to concentrate on your surroundings, being in the here and now or mindfulness as it’s called now.
To identify the birds you see takes just enough mental activity to keep your brain active and the birds movement is enough to keep your mind connected. Bird watching is a hobby that you will still be able to enjoy when you’re old and grey and many other activities have become too much for you.
- Lowers Anxiety And Depression
A study conducted by the University of Exeter concluded that the more birds seen, the lower the levels of depression and anxiety. People who spent time bird watching reported less feelings of depression and anxiety than at other times when they were stuck indoors. The study also concluded that it wasn’t the ability to recognise and identify particular birds, but more the physical act of watching the birds, that improved their moods.
- Creates A Feeling Of Meditation
Just observing birds in their natural environment is enough to invoke feelings of calm, relaxation and stress relief. These feelings increase every time you spend time bird watching. It’s the actual act of watching the movements of the birds, the way their tail moves, the way they hop or take flight and of course the bird song. Being aware of what’s happening in the moment is of course what bird watching is all about.
Bird watching takes up most of your sensory awareness, sight, hearing, detecting movement all of which takes your mind off any problems you might have.
- Develops Patience
Birds spook easily, so you need to be quiet and still to observe them going about their daily activities. Quietness and stillness are the marks of patience. You may have planned today’s excursion weeks ago, read up on which types of birds you’re likely to see, only to arrive and see absolutely nothing. Or an occasional glimpse high in the trees.
It’s all part of bird watching, these are live creatures living their lives, they’re not there purely for your entertainment. When you realise that and move on to a different site, you might have more success. That’s patience and that can only be achieved on your own in a quiet environment at one with nature.
- Creates Lasting Friendships
Once you get into bird watching, you’ll be surprised at just how many other bird watchers there are out there. Sometimes the subject comes up in conversation at a school concert, whilst out shopping, or in one of many unrelated places. Those people that share your interest in birds will usually be only too happy to share locations they prefer or have spotted birds you haven’t etc.
- Boosts The National Economy
According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Food and Wildlife bird watching generates around $41 billion per year with $15 billion being spent on food, transport and lodgings. Bird watching can be as cheap or as expensive as you choose, from watching birds in your local area to travelling to other parts of the world to watch more exotic birds.
- Makes You Part Of An International Community
We live in a digital age where pretty much everyone is online. This means we can share our sightings with other bird watchers from all over the world. Some of these online friends can become regular friends with trips across continents to meet up and see birds not necessarily visible at home.
- Easy To Share With Family
Many bird watchers learn to bird watch from parents or grandparents and then meet up on a semi-regular basis to go and spot a few different birds for a couple of hours. Bird watching is an inexpensive way to get the younger generations interested in nature and the protection of the environment.
- A Healthy Pastime
There have been numerous studies done that prove time after time that bird watching is good for your health. Spending time outside in sunlight allows your body to absorb vitamin D which is known to improve your immune system, nervous system and muscle tone. Vitamin D is also good for absorbing calcium for strong teeth and bones.
The actual energy used walking to and from bird watching sites helps maintain a good healthy body and mind. It clears your mind, improves your cardiovascular system and boosts your immune system.
Good Places To Watch Birds
There are many places where birds can be observed from cities to the countryside and mountains to coasts. Different birds inhabit different areas and there’s usually something to see. Try;
- Coastal Footpaths
- Picnic Sites
- Nature Reserves
- RSPB Sites
Equipment To Help The Bird Watcher
The only piece of equipment that really benefits the bird watcher is a decent pair of binoculars and possibly a notepad and pen to record any sightings you make. A local field guide and a bird identification book will also be useful but not a necessity. A stout pair of shoes or walking boots, waterproof clothing, a flask, packed lunch, and a rucksack or backpack to carry it all in and possibly a camera.
But all you really need is your eyes, patience and time, and you can be a bird watcher.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bird watching is important because it provides a connection between human beings and the natural world.
Bird watching is good for you because it is a peaceful, calm, relaxing hobby and it helps to maintain fitness and mental health.
Bird watching is popular because it is an inexpensive hobby that can be done anywhere with no special equipment and at any time of the day.