According to recent research based at the Environmental Sustainability Institute (University of Exeter), ‘watching birds near your home is good for your mental health. Researchers Dr Cox and Professor Kevin Gaston found that ‘watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature' (Cox and Gaston, 2016). Anyone who regularly watches birds in their garden has known instinctively that it’s a rewarding pastime; however, the new research states that ‘People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.’
So it’s official, we need wildlife, and wildlife needs us. And the MORE wildlife the better as the study states that there’s no relationship between ‘the species of birds and mental health, but rather the number of birds they (the 270 people surveyed) could see from their windows, in the garden or in their neighbourhood.’ This explains why bird feeders are so incredibly popular with garden birders as it’s fun and entertaining to watch the comings and goings of birds. Perhaps we’ve all known instinctively for some time that there’s a philanthropic two-way street between ourselves and nature and we’re both seeking to promote one another’s welfare through generosity and benevolence. That’s a nice thought to take into spring.
The research is further proof – were it required – that we’re all inextricably linked. Nature’s suffering is our suffering and our connection to the natural world can be the remedy to species decline and deliver something we’re all looking for – excitement and less stress. I suppose deep down we’ve always all known that birds can do that. Isn’t it great, however, that the world might be waking up to the importance of protecting wildlife – even if (heaven forbid) it’s for our own selfish survival? Garden birders know better, though, don’t we? We’ve always known that we need wildlife, and wildlife needs us.