Want to Boost your Mental Health? Listen to Bird Songs

Want to Boost your Mental Health? Listen to Bird Songs

Posted: April 30, 2024

It was a cold, grey Monday and nothing was going my way.  The refrigerator was making an ominous buzz and my head throbbed from a poor night’s sleep.  My mood mirrored the dreary weather, and I had no desire to do much of anything. 

It would’ve been easy to just sink into a Monday morning slump and doom scroll. But instead, I put down my phone, ignored my “to-do” list and went outside and listened to birds. I’m fortunate to live next to the Great Neck Sanctuary in Wareham, so there’s lots of bird songs, especially in the morning, if you take the time to stop and listen.  

And as I heard the Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee of the Black Capped Chickadee (our state bird) and the Cheer-up-Cheerily of the American Robin, my worries faded, and my mood improved. Think this sounds too good to be true? Think again.  

American robin.

According to scientific research, contact with nature is associated with better mental health and can reduce overall feelings of anxiety and depression. Birds can be a particularly good source of emotional healing. In fact, seeing or hearing birds is found to have a significant positive impact on our well-being and can help ward off negative emotions.   

One reason for this finding is that natural stimuli, such as birdsongs, have a calming effect on our nervous system. Just listening to a Carolina Wren or Tufted Titmouse can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. An added benefit is that going for a bird walk keeps our bodies moving. We can enjoy our natural surroundings and get our steps in too.  

Now you might be wondering, but I don’t know much about birds and can’t tell a Blue Jay from a Bluebird. As a birder-want-to-be, I knew I needed some help too. 

Good thing that there are apps like the Merlin Bird ID which can help identify birds just by their songs. In addition, the Audubon Bird Guide provides recordings of many different bird songs and has lots of information on over 800 species of North American birds.  

And don’t be afraid to totally geek out on birds. On a recent walk with my daughter in Hudson Valley, New York, I whipped out my Merlin App to identify a lovely bird song. “Becca!” I shouted, “It’s a bobolink!” 

But my favorite bird walks are closer to home right here in Wareham. This morning, I identified an ovenbird which is hard to see, but easy to hear. The ovenbird has a melodic song that sounds like Teacher, Teacher

And through my bird walks, I’ve learned that our fine feathered friends can in fact be among our best teachers. 

They can teach us to slow down, appreciate the beauty of our natural world, and find joy in the moment. 

Written by Jody Gastfriend, WLT Advisor


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