Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Benefits of Birds

There are a lot of sayings and idioms that involve birds: 
  • Like a duck to water
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Free as a bird
  • Birds eye view
And these are just a few. [For more, check out The Spruce's article Bird Idioms Explained.]

But the fact that they impact our language so much pays tribute to how readily available our flying feathered friends are. 

And lucky for us...birds do not just influence our language. They apparently serve our mind, body and spirit! Mary Jo DiLonardo addressed this fact in her 11/9/2022 Treehugger article "Seeing or Hearing Birds Is Good for Well-Being"

Researcher Ryan Hammoud (from King's College in London) led the study, finding that having birds in our sights or sound-space can actually provide positive emotional benefits for up to 8 hours. His goal in his research: to use the information for combining health, urban design, and city plannning. Hammoud noted that there has been a lot of studies focusing around the healthy impacts of Vitamin N--Nature, but not specifically centered on birds. (Vitamin FF--Feathered Friends?? 😉) 

Using the app Urban Mind, his experiments focused on 1,292 people who completed almost 27,000 assessments, surveys, and follow up questions. Three times a day, these experiment participants were asked questions about their proximity to birds as well as their current emotions--both positive ones (like self-assured, joyful, relaxed) and negative ones (like apprehension, overwhelm, and detached). Additionally, they took data on participants' diaagnosed mental health conditions. Researchers wanted to determine if there was any correlation between the birds and their mental well-being.

Results showed that regardless of diagnosis of mental health, all participants showed a positive spike in their emotional state when birds were factored in (regardless of other environmental stimuli)--sometimes lasting up to 8 hours. This was the first evidentiary study to prove that both the songbirds' melodies and watching them in fanciful flight or simply dining at the bird feeder. It also provided scientific confirmation that the biodiversity that surrounds us when we are out in nature (the flora, the fauna, and the feathered) all are part of that Vitamin N. [Go here to read the entire scientific report of the study.]

Additionally, this scientific study supports the efforts of and their pursuit to protect bird populations. According to their statistics, we no longer have 1 of every 4 birds we had in 1970. This species loss we now know also has a significant impact on our mental health (particularly depression). By raising conservation efforts when it comes to birds, we also--once again--are giving ourselves and our planet the gift of health.

My husband and I joke about how the older we get, the more bird feeders and birdhouses we seem to be acquiring. Little did we know we were just being proactive about our mental health! That's definitely "something to crow about," and may just be the key to being "happy as a lark."

* Bonus: Want to bring more nature sounds into your life to help create some calm while you "get your ducks in a row?" Check out this 3 hour soundtrack of bird songs from Acerting Arts on YouTube.

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