Why Bird Watching Is Important

Why Bird Watching Is Important

Someone asked the question the other day, why is bird watching important? And it got us thinking. So our reply is this article. In it you’ll learn how bird watching improves not just our awareness of the natural world, but also improves our mental health. So read on to reinforce some of your beliefs and also learn some new ideas too.

What Is Bird Watching?

Let’s start with the basics, bird watching has been a popular pastime for hundreds of years, in 1506 Leonardo Davinci finished his codex on the flight of birds, and he is just one in a large number of famous bird watchers. According to dictionary.com[1] bird watching is the act of watching birds and observing their habits and actions in their natural habitat for recreation.

What Do You Need For Watching Birds?

The main things you need for bird watching are time and patience. A decent pair of binoculars helps to spot birds and observe them in closer detail, and sometimes a spotting scope is a better option than binoculars. Some people like to photograph or record their bird watching on film but these are just by the wayside.

A decent pair of binoculars will definitely enhance your bird watching experience, but time and patience are the two main requirements. To identify the birds you see, a handy reference field guide helps, as does local knowledge but watching birds is an activity that can be undertaken anywhere.

Bird Watching And Mental Health

Society today moves at such a fast pace, it often feels as if we don’t have time to breathe. Internet connections, mobile telephones, we’re never free from technology and the pressures of modern life. Over time that constant noise and demand for our time can lead to extreme pressures on our mental health.

The expression “I don’t have time to think” has never been closer to the truth than now, in the 21st century. By simply removing ourselves from that constant pressure and disconnecting for just 30 minutes a day can give us that much needed break. Time to recharge our batteries and refocus our brains.

What better way than to immerse yourself in nature, either by going into a woodland, park or even just looking out into your own garden. Focusing your attention on nature, watching birds as they search for food, look after their young or build their nests removes all of the stress and worries from our daily lives. According to a study conducted by Exeter University [2] it’s not the types of birds, but the quantity of birds seen that has a beneficial effect on mental health. The study found that people who spend time watching birds are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or stress.

Reasons Bird Watching Benefits Mental Health

There are well documented reasons that bird watching has a beneficial effect on mental health, they include;

  • Bird Watching Is A Form Of Meditation
    The similarities between bird watching and meditation are obvious. Both activities force stillness, quietness and the elimination of distractions. As you look through your binocular lens you will allow your mind to wander which gives your brain a chance to make sense of the day’s activities.
  • Bird Watching Causes Mindfulness
    While watching the birds, you have to be focussed and concentrate on what’s happening here and now.
  • Bird Watching Exposes Us To Nature
    Human beings are creatures of the natural world, and as such we rely on nature to help regulate our moods and our behaviour. Walking through woodland or parkland helps us get back in touch with nature.
  • Bird Watching Puts Our Own Problems Into Perspective
    Watching birds build their nests, struggle against the elements, teach their young to fly and realising that for those birds these activities are life and death situations, brings our own problems back into perspective.
  • Bird Watching Is Fun
    We tend to do things in our free time that we enjoy and watching the birds is a fun way to spend an hour or so. Watching sparrows standing cheek by jowl with starlings and pigeons and seeing their antics to get food is incredibly entertaining.

And it’s not just adults that benefit from bird watching, encouraging children to watch birds inspires in them a love for the environment, encourages an empathy for living creatures and provides opportunities for learning.

Bird Watching And Physical Health

Many bird watchers hike for miles to reach the perfect areas to spot particular bird species. With many birds nesting in areas that are hard to access. This means if you want to see certain bird species, you will need to walk long distances over rugged terrain. 

All of which is great for your cardiovascular system, pushing yourself over long distances improves circulation, muscle strength and tone, and your lung capacity. 

Bird Watching And Conservation

Much of the data used by researchers in the field of conservation is supplied through bird watchers. In 2019 in the UK, half a million big garden birdwatch participants recorded 7.67 million birds in just 3 days. This and other data enables researchers in conservation to create statistics species by species allowing an accurate record of bird types and populations nationwide. 

For instance the starling population in the UK has dropped by 81% since the first big garden bird watch began in 1979. By conserving bird numbers, other species are conserved that would otherwise be in decline too. Insects, plants and whole ecosystems rely upon one another for continued survival, birds are an attractive member of our indigenous species and as such most people have little or no problem contributing to the wellbeing of birds.

Bird Watching And The Economy

Bird watching is one of the top 10 hobbies worldwide and according to the CBI [3] there are around 3 million trips dedicated to bird watching globally every year. 37% of European tour operators offer bird watching tourism. According to a 2011 birding survey undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service[4] birdwatchers in the U.S. spent $14.8 billion on bird watching trips and $26.1 billion on bird watching equipment. 

That’s nearly $41 billion spent just on bird watching in the U.S. alone. That’s without staff wages, taxes etc. 

You Don’t Have To Travel To Bird Watch

It is possible to bird watch from the comfort of your own home. Your garden can be a great place to watch the birds and if you can’t access the outdoors, you can even watch the birds from the comfort of your own front room.

Reasons Why Bird Watching Is Important

Bird watching is important for our health, the birds health and the economy. Bird watching is important for;

  • Our Physical Health
  • Our Mental Health
  • The Birds
  • The Environment
  • The Economy

Why Are Birds Important To Our Life?

Birds are important for the ecosystem of the planet. They keep insect pest numbers down, prevent crop devastation, pollinate crops and spread seeds to wider areas of the planet. Their droppings are used as a rich fertiliser to grow crops, birds also keep rodent populations down. Plus they are a vital part of the food chain.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does bird watching help the environment?

By watching the birds, we can record the levels of bird population which is an indicator of the overall ecosystems.

What is the point of bird watching?

Bird watching stimulates the brain in healthy ways. It teaches patience, and how to identify and recognise birds.