Watching and Listening to Birds—Just What the Doctor Ordered!

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

Have you found yourself listening to the birds singing more since the pandemic started? You are not alone, and it’s not just because there are fewer human-caused sounds since we are home more. According to Mary Forgione, in her May 7 Los Angeles Times article, “Research shows that listening to birdsong relaxes the body and sharpens the mind. Watching birds sends us outdoors and into nature, which benefits humans in many ways, including keeping anxiety, anger and depression at bay.” Something we all need during these trying times. Boost your spirits with a little birdsong or bird watching. You don’t have to know which bird is singing to appreciate their beautiful music, but if you are curious, here are several ways you can learn more.

  1. The best way is if you can see the bird that is singing well enough to identify it with your field guide or app.
  2. Or, go on a hike with a birder who knows his or her stuff. They can identify birds by sound as well as by sight.
  3. Learn more yourself by downloading one of the free bird apps available on your computer, smart phone, or iPad. Merlin, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is one. (They also have a huge online database of bird songs and calls from around the world.) The Audubon Bird Guide, from the National Audubon Society is another. These apps have ways to identify birds by location, size, colors, and habits. Or, you can look through the birds in the app and listen to their songs to see if you hear familiar ones.
  4. It’s always good to have a bird field guide to study pictures and basic information about birds in your region. My current favorite is Birds of Southern California by Kimball L Garrett, Jon L. Dunn and Brian E. Small.

Get ready for your own birding adventure!

Want to learn more about the benefits to humans of birdsong and other aspects of nature? Read The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams, 2018.

Or check out this article describing scientific research on the effects of birdsong on humans conducted by the University of Surrey in England:

Or read a local news article about this study recently conducted by a student at California Polytechnic State University in:

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