If you’re feeling especially chirpy today, it could be thanks to our feathered friends. Seeing or hearing birds has been linked to an improvement in mental wellbeing that can last up to eight hours, according to a new study.
Researchers recruited 1,292 people from around the world for their study, with the majority based in the UK.
If you’re feeling especially chirpy today, it could be thanks to our feathered friends. Seeing or hearing birds has been linked to an improvement in mental wellbeing that can last up to eight hours, according to a new study (stock of a Cetti’s warbler perched on a branch)
They used a smartphone app called Urban Mind to collect real-time data on mental wellbeing alongside reports of seeing or hearing birdsong.
The app asked participants three times a day whether they could see or hear birds, followed by questions on mental wellbeing to work out if there was an association between the two and how long it lasted.
The study also collected information on existing diagnoses of mental health conditions.
Analysis revealed hearing or seeing birds was associated with improvements in mental wellbeing in both healthy people and those with depression.
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Researchers showed that the links between birds and mental wellbeing were not explained by other environmental factors such the presence of trees, plants, or waterways.
Lead author Ryan Hammoud, from King’s College London, said: ‘There is growing evidence on the mental health benefits of being around nature and we intuitively think that the presence of birdsong and birds would help lift our mood.
‘However, there is little research that has actually investigated the impact of birds on mental health in real-time and in a real environment.
‘By using the Urban Mind app we have for the first time showed the direct link between seeing or hearing birds and positive mood.
‘We hope this evidence can demonstrate the importance of protecting and providing environments to encourage birds, not only for biodiversity but for our mental health.’
Senior author Andrea Mechelli said: ‘Our study provides an evidence base for creating and supporting biodiverse spaces that harbour birdlife, since this is strongly linked with our mental health.
‘In addition, the findings support the implementation of measures to increase opportunities for people to come across birdlife, particularly for those living with mental health conditions such as depression.’
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the authors said: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the impact of everyday encounters with birds on mental wellbeing in real-time and real-life contexts.
‘We report significant mental health benefits of birdlife, evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression.’