Why Birding? What’s so great about it?
My wife and I are both ‘recreational birders’, which simply means we love observing, sharing and photographing birds from all over our country, Australia. In addition we are constantly learning to understand from observing the behavior of our birds, how we may do life better.
Below are seven good reasons why birding is a great recreational activity, as well as good for a happy and healthy life.
Birding helps bond family relationships. My wife and I both enjoy birding together, on our birding dates. My children and grandchildren are starting to enjoy it with us. It is something inexpensive that we can do together. It is an ideal hobby for couples that are looking for a recreational past-time they can share together, that will get them outdoors, especially when the last child has left the nest. One of the reasons marriage failures occur due to empty nest syndrome is that couples often discover they have nothing in common any longer that they enjoy sharing together, now that the children are no longer the central focus of their lives.
Birding is a healthy pastime because it gets you outdoors in the fresh air, and gets you exercising by walking. It uses your senses and mind in a restorative manner, being a pleasant variation from your indoor domestic life. Recent scientific research has shown that a 30 minute walk in nature among tall trees can ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, refresh and renew one emotionally, and help to restore inner calmness and peace. It is also another great way to help stay off Alzheimer’s and dementia, as it keeps the mind active and learning.
The National Parks Association of Queensland, on their Kids in National Parks promotional page highlight these health aspects:
♥ Positive mental health outcomes;
♥ Physical health benefits;
♥ Enhanced intellectual development;
♥ A stronger sense of concern and care for the environment.
Birding is a very interesting hobby, full of variety, like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, ‘you do not know what you will get’ each time you go out, which adds a touch of excitement to it. This is because Australia has such a rich variety of bird species, which live in a variety of interesting habitats. Many birds occur in different areas at different times of year. Because most birds fly, and can move about, they make each visit to a particular habitat different and interesting on each occasion.
Birding is a good pastime for making friends. Birders are generally friendly, knowledgeable people, enthusiastic and keen to share their knowledge with others of like mind. It is enjoyable meeting other birders you know on the track and share experiences.
Birding is great to stimulate young minds and bodies to a healthy lifestyle, it increases their awareness of life around them, making them more ‘mindful’ and appreciative, not just of birds but of the other aspects of nature and wildlife that they observe. It sharpens one’s senses of hearing and seeing as one tunes in to the world about them and diverts the focus of their stressful life to an enjoyable distraction for a time. It encourages us to conscientious about conservation and protecting our endangered species. Bird counts are performed annually by many keen birders in an attempt to monitor and save threatened species.
Birding helps us live better lives. We learn a lot about life watching the birds, for this reason Jesus Christ even told us to: Watch and Learn from the Birds. My recent book release “What Birds Teach Us” which is featured on my Birdbook page on this website, shows how we can learn from the behaviour of our birds in order to live a happy and healthy life.
Birding has concomitant rewards because birds live in lovely, sometimes beautiful places, thus you get to enjoy more than just birds. We include birding in our holidays and weekends, and we are always blessed with a beautiful appreciation of our rainforests, bush, seascape, riverscape, flora and fauna found in the areas we bird in. This is a wonderful way to become more mindful by adsorbing into our minds and spirit the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere that the appreciation of nature brings. The peace and pleasant memories we experience when out in the bush or park can be carried into our busy work, school or home life to give us mindful moments of time out to rest and arrest our minds and emotions to a more peaceful, pleasant and soothing state. This occurs as we relive the memory, re earthing ourselves back in bush with the birds, even if just for a few seconds at a time. Many find this very helpful for restoring peace in a stressful, monotonous or unpleasant situation. My web page on the Mindfulness of Birding will give more detail.
It doesn’t matter how old we are, we can all enjoy birding, just like my granddaughter.
Read the latest independent study on the Health Benefits of Birding.
Proof that birdwatching is good for you
‘It’s not just birdwatchers who get depressed, anxious or stressed if they stay inside for too long. According to a study by the University of Exeter in Britain, it can affect us all. But the good news is that spending time outdoors watching the local birds can restore your mental health.
The study did not find that specific species of birds people saw had an effect (though twitchers may disagree), but the number of birds that people could see around the neighbourhood, in their gardens, or even through their window, was likely to affect their mental health. It is the simple act of interacting with birds that appears to be the key.
“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being,” said Dr Daniel Cox, of the University of Exeter. “Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care.’
The positive association between birds, plants and good mental health apply, even when a wide range of socio-economic variables are taken into account.”
Quoted from Birdlife Australia’s Newsletter 1/3/17
If after reading this you would like to become a recreational birder (birdwatcher) and learn more about our birds follow my weekly Blog posts by pressing the Follow button at the start of the Blog post page . If you would like to know how to get started to make birdwatching a hobby check out my Birding for Beginners for helpful hints on bird watching and field guides. Purchase a good pair of binoculars 8×32 or 10×40 or better, plus a recent bird field guide and take friends, partner and/or family along with you to share the experience. The walk in the fresh air and the feeling of excitement and expectation are all positive effects toward our mental and physical health including our immune system.