So what’s so great about bird watching? People stand around with binoculars wearing funny hats and vests, pointing and calling out names. It may look weird and boring to some, but there are actually a ton of benefits to bird watching, some that may surprise you!
Bird watching, aka Birding, has become more popular than ever. With the Covid pandemic forcing us indoors for prolonged periods of time, perhaps you have had more time to observe these fascinating creatures.
Birding has had a huge influence from eco-tourism to optics. Whether you live in a big city, suburb, rural area, in the mountains or near a lake or ocean, you can always find birds. And, many of them change with the seasons, always giving you something to look forward to.
Perhaps you have been birding for many years and making great progress on your “life” list. You know why you love watching birds. But did you know about the surprising benefits of bird watching?
1. Physical Activity
Birds provide us with a connection to nature. When you get outside and watch birds in their natural habitat, you are immersing yourself in their environment. In many cases, you will be breathing in fresh air, soaking up the sun’s rays and listening to their beautiful songs.
It may be as simple as filling the bird feeders or going to the local park. These activities get us up and moving around, one small physical benefit of birding.
If you’re a more experienced birder, you may also be lugging around a big lens or scope, a backpack, and making longer trips with your gear. Even using binoculars for an extended period of time will get your arms working.
Image by Ingela Skullman from Pixabay
2. Stress Reduction
When you really “get into” bird watching, you allow yourself to be totally immersed in the momement. Being surrounded by nature – the sounds, the scenes – induce a state of relaxation. It’s nature therapy for your brain and it helps to boost your immune system and natural endorphins.
Most birders explain their hobby as relaxing and peaceful. It requires you to be quiet and calm in order to focus in on your find.
Birding is good for our brains. Not only are we looking for our subject, but we must listen to the sounds, identify shapes, patterns, flight and behaviors. A good birder needs all of these skills to make a positive identificaton as quickly as possible. When a new bird is discovered, it provides an endorphin boost, like a good catch.
Image by benmenting from Pixabay
Birders and people who enjoy birds are everywhere. My co-worker would always ask me about a bird that he saw over the weekend. It was fun for me to help him identify it, and he was equally thrilled with learning more about what he saw.
When you are out at a local park or wildlife refuge, there’s an easy opportunity to ask a birder what they’ve seen. A short story may follow with a big smile. There are birding clubs all over to share and learn. The natural splendor of birds attracts a wide range of people from all walks of life. Having a common interest makes meeting people remarkably easy.
5. Economic Impact
Getting into bird watching begins with interest and can be very low cost and even free. For a small fee, field guides and birdfeeders are added to increase knowledge and access. From there, binoculars, scopes, cameras are added. These range in cost from very low to huge investments such as long camera lenses, camera bodies, and high-end binoculars.
Depending on the season, birders will travel regionally and internationally to get closer to birds. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, more than 50 million* people watch birds in and around their home, spending close to $50 billion* annually on trips and equipment (*estimates adjusted to current year).
Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay
Image by Acertmsweeper from Pixabay
6. Fun for Everyone
Birding is a great, low-cost way to get kids out of the house and learn about nature. It can also help bond with home-bound folks by sharing your sightings; arrange a bird feeder so they can watch from the window.
Spending time outdoors and appreciating the environment provides quality time together. It can be a great activity for a date idea too! Researching birds and planning a local trip or vacation or festival to see them can be a great activity. For several years in a row, we drove up to Maine to go on Puffin tours – that was usually the highlight of our vacation!
7. Leads to Other Interests
When you become interested in birds, you do your best to protect their environment. This can lead to growing native plants and flowers in your yard, igniting an interest in gardening. Adding flowers attracts other pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.
In my yard, there are over 50 common milkweed plants for Monarch Butterflies. By hosting these plants, I can closely monitor them for eggs and caterpillars. Over the last few years, I have released over 300 Monarchs!
A variety of other perennials provides seeds for goldfinches and other small songbirds. Sunflowers are highly treasured by all critters in my yard, including chipmunks and squirrels.
All in all, bird watching leads to a keen interest in creating and preserving a natural environment.
8. Connect Online
Finally, there is a huge community of birders online. Cornell University has created Merlin, a bird ID app, and eBird, which allows birders to track sightings, post photos, videos and sounds of their findings. Enthusiasts can then monitor these reports by geographic “hot spots” based on a date range. It keeps people engaged with other birders in their local area and beyond!
So there you have it, eight surprising benefits of bird watching. Birding can be done solo, with a group, with your family, or connect online to share and report your sightings. It brings you closer to nature and provides a great sense of appreciation for the environment. It has a huge economic impact, gets you outdoors and stimulates the brain.
We need birds much more than they need us. We have to do our part to preserve, protect and educate for the future. Make your next friend a birder!
Ready to welcome more birds to your backyard? Check out my other posts:
- Five Fun Bird Feeders under $25
- Simple Homemade Wooden Bird Houses
- Ways to Help Backyard Birds in Winter