Watch Birds! – Tuesday Tip – February 20, 2018

You don’t have to strap an expensive pair of binoculars around your neck and head into the woods to benefit from birdwatching.  According to a 2017 study published in the journal BioScience, simply living in an environment where birds are abundant can lift your mood.

Abundant Bird Population Tied to Mental Health

The study, “Doses of Neighborhood Nature:  The Benefits for Mental Health of Living with Nature,” explored the relationship between natural residential environments and mental health.  Study participants completed self-assessments measuring depression, anxiety and stress, and researchers measured the amount of vegetation, and the variety and abundance of birds in participants’ neighborhoods at two different times during the day.

Using statistical analysis, researchers found that “people living in neighborhoods with higher levels of vegetation cover and afternoon bird abundances had reduced severity of depression, anxiety, and stress.”  They concluded that abundance was more significant than variety because most people can’t identify bird species, and afternoon abundance was more significant than morning abundance because that’s when people are more likely to be out of their homes.

Pay Attention to the Birds Around You

The study’s authors suggest that deliberate urban and community design policies that increase vegetation, and the birds attracted to it, might have a strong public health justification.  In the meantime, if you live in a place where birds are abundant, take time to notice them.  If you don’t, take a walk or a drive to where they are to lift your mood!

(More Tuesday Tips here.)

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