Birdwatching has become increasingly popular over the years. People are always on the lookout for a fun, healthy activity to do outdoors and turns out that birdwatching fits the bill!
In a time when safe outdoor activities are few and far between (owing to the global pandemic), birdwatching is something everyone can do no matter where they live. It is local, it does not involve large crowds and it gets you moving too!
Birdwatching can be very beneficial to your mental and physical health. It really enriches your life as it is a calming, peaceful activity that brings you closer to nature and yourself too.
Let’s take a look at the difference birdwatching can make in your life.
Connecting with Nature
If you’re birdwatching, you get to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. A couple of hours in the fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your health and mind. You also gain a healthy appreciation for nature and your surroundings.
The majority of US citizens have a vitamin D deficiency, which poses many health risks. Soaking up some sun while birdwatching is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
At a time where the only thing we are constantly connected to is our Wi-Fi signal, birdwatching brings us closer to nature. It fulfills our need for making connections with the flora and fauna in our environment—a need we often ignore.
Birds of a Feather
Having a hobby like birdwatching opens you up to meeting new people who share the same interests as you. Having a network of friends with similar interests has a positive effect on your mental health too.
You will meet people from all walks of life while birdwatching. It is an activity that brings people together despite the barriers of age, background or profession that may separate them.
Most birders are friendly and helpful people who will definitely welcome you with open arms into their group, be it online or in real life. Once you get into it, birdwatching will build a sense of community which could very well last a lifetime.
Also, you will never run into the ‘what do we talk about’ scenario with your birding pals. You could even end up spending hours chatting about your birdwatching experiences.
Gets You Moving
Once you develop an interest in birdwatching, you might end up hiking for hours to catch a glimpse of a particular bird. Even if you do it only occasionally, you still end up going outside and physically moving for a good chunk of the day.
In a world of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the importance of a hobby that gets you moving is very high. It isn’t rigorous or demanding at all, you can do it at your own pace. It can actually be quite relaxing for an outdoor activity.
If just going for a walk seems boring and repetitive, birdwatching is the perfect activity to hit your daily step target. Your mind is alert and engaged, your heart rate is up and you get to stretch your legs after spending a lot of time sitting at a desk.
When engaging in physical activity, we tend to breathe more deeply. This helps us absorb more oxygen, making us more alert mentally and elevating our mood. Birdwatching is not just good for your health—it makes you feel good too.
Birdwatching is a very flexible physical activity—it can be very rigorous or mellow depending on how you feel.
Fresh air, the lush aroma of greenery and silence save for the chirping of birds—this is what an average day of birdwatching feels like.
No ringing phone, no emails and absolutely no Zoom meetings, you get to spend some quality time off the grid without the usual distractions. How often does that happen?
Spending time birdwatching means you spend a good amount of time in silence, in the presence of nature, with a focussed and active mind. It is often a very meditative experience and helps you introspect your life too.
Explore Your Surroundings
Traveling was never an easy task. Vacations can be expensive, finding the right destination is difficult and not everyone has the luxury of taking time out to travel.
Add the COVID-19 situation to the mix and traveling might seem like something one can only dream about. It’s a shame considering the fact that traveling has many health benefits. A study has found that people who travel live longer than people who don’t.
On the other hand, birdwatching takes you places—literally! Traveling is an integral part of birdwatching. Even if you can’t travel out of your state, there are several venues for birdwatching near you like state parks and coastlines.
You can even look around your neighborhood and you will surely find many spots ideal for a day of birdwatching in the lap of nature.
Good for your Mental Health
Birdwatching has countless benefits to the mind. It exercises parts of your mental ability that usually don’t get much activity in your routine life.
Birds can appear or disappear quite literally in the blink of an eye. Bird watchers stay vigilant for long periods of time to catch a glimpse or snap a picture of the bird they are pursuing. This degree of alertness helps keep the mind sharp.
Birdwatching also helps you keep a Zen attitude. You cannot control birds or their movement, they will come and go as they wish. Bird watchers learn the art of patience and acceptance, especially in times when things don’t go their way.
Besides, it is a very calming and relaxing hobby. It teaches you to live in the moment and lowers your stress levels. Add the excitement of finding a new bird or the exhilaration of spotting a bird you’ve been looking for and the experience could become therapeutic.
Good for the Environment
Birdwatching is an activity that keeps you constantly curious. The more you know, the more you want to learn about birds and their habitats. It eventually takes you on a journey through many other subjects like ecology, biology, geography and history.
You are also enlightened about the various species of birds and the challenges they face in the modern world. You will likely get involved in restoring and conserving their natural habitats.
Birdwatching reveals to us the intricate ways in which we are connected with nature around us. It has become increasingly apparent that we need nature a lot more than it needs us.
Being privy to this knowledge makes it impossible not to want to take charge and start taking steps towards saving the natural environment. This could be through educating those close to you, making your property more sustainable or affecting change at the state level.
The Perfect Hobby
No matter who you are or what you do, birdwatching could be the perfect hobby for you. Here’s why:
- Birds are everywhere. Wherever you live, there are always species of birds that frequent your area. There might not be any other animals around, but you can always count on the presence of birds. Birdwatching is not an area-specific activity. It can be done by anyone, no matter where they live. There are always good birdwatching spots around us waiting to be discovered.
- Birdwatching is one of the most flexible pastimes in the world. You can be as involved or uninvolved as you wish to be. It is not a skill that needs practice, nor do you need to keep up with developments in the birdwatching world. You could just learn about the birds in your area and study their behavior or branch out to migratory birds and their habits. It is all up to you!
- Birdwatching is not an activity that will cost you money. A good pair of binoculars and perhaps a guide are all you need. The fresh air, the birds themselves and sunshine—everything else is free. If you wish to be an avid bird watcher you could buy books about birdwatching, install feeders on your property or go on birdwatching tours. It all depends on how much time and money you wish to spend on this activity.
- Have you ever met a ‘former’ bird watcher? Neither have we! Interests like birdwatching are not something people let go of easily. It introduces a sense of wonder into our lives that doesn’t fade over time. What could be better than that?
Birdwatching is a great activity for people of all ages. It has many benefits, both mental and physical and it brings us closer to nature too.
If you practice birdwatching, you could become part of a very warm community and meet a lot of people who share the love of birdwatching. You could do it alone or in groups, in your neighborhood or in an exotic location. There are no limits!
If you are looking for a sign to start your birdwatching journey, this is it. Grab a pair of binoculars and you’re ready to go!