The Health Benefits of Birdwatching are Too Good to Pass Up

By Charmin Dahl

This time of year, I find it hard to get motivated to go outside. The combination of bad weather, indulgent holidays, and bittersweet year’s end leaves me feeling mushy in mind and body. But being busy, bloated, and blue are all good reasons to go outside, immediately. Spending time outdoors provides numerous health benefits that can improve our overall well-being. These benefits may include lowered blood pressure, improved short-term memory, and lower inflammation.

If you, too, are lacking motivation… Now is a great time to try birdwatching. I recently reviewed new scientific studies on the health benefits of birdwatching. Even as a longtime birder, I was surprised and impressed by the number of benefits, particularly for mental health, that birdwatching provides. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, birdwatching may cause:

  • Improved attention and focus
  • Feelings of achievement 
  • Calmness that comes from tasks like counting and sorting
  • Detachment from unhealthy or mundane lifestyles
  • Feelings of freedom and renewed curiosity

Who couldn’t use a good dose of each of these? If you want to try birdwatching, these suggestions may maximize the health benefits.

Make it easy; go to where you know birds will be. You may see plenty of birds just by walking in your neighborhood. If you aren’t sure, visit a local pond where there are sure to be ducks.  

Don’t worry about identifying the species of birds. Studies found that focusing too much on bird identification may cause frustration and stress – that’s not what we’re here for. 

Instead, simply count them. You can also sort them by features you find interesting such as: shape, color, location (swimming, sitting on a wire), or behavior (eating, grooming). Be intentional with your observations.

Some studies suggest that listening to familiar birds creates feelings of connection and belonging. Take a moment to listen. Really listen. Finally, try creating a short poem or rhyme that captures the experience. Combining time outdoors with creativity boosts good feelings and forms positive memories.

Conveniently, it only takes about twenty minutes to feel the benefits of being outside or birdwatching. Whether you need that time alone, or choose to share it, is up to you. Rarely can something so good for us be so easy – if only we make the time to do it.


Try This:  An acrostic poem is one where the first letter of each line forms a word that identifies the subject of the poem.  For example: DUCKS

Delicately balanced on the surface

Under-over, feet in air

Collects food underwater

Kicks once to upright turn