Being around birds makes people feel ‘chirpy’ and boosts mental wellbeing. Seeing or hearing birds provides a lift to mental health, with the boost lasting for up to eight hours.
For this study researchers used a phone app called Urban Mind. People were asked three times a day whether they could see or hear birds, and afterwards they responded to questions about their mental wellbeing.
“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,” said lead author Ryan Hammoud of King’s College London.
“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.”
The 3-year study involved more than 1,200 participants who completed over 26,800 assessments using the Urban Mind app. These participants were mainly based in the U.K., the EU and the U.S. The study also collected information on existing diagnoses of mental health conditions such as depression.
Through the findings it became clear that hearing and seeing birdlife improved the mental health of people with and without depression.
A further interesting data point showed that the habitat of the birds, such as in a sun-dabbled wood or by a babbling brook, were not required for this improvement in mood.
“The term ecosystem services is often used to describe the benefits of certain aspects of the natural environment on our physical and mental health. However, it can be difficult to prove these benefits scientifically,” said senior author Professor Andrea Mechelli, of King’s College London.
“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,” he said.
The finds aren’t particularly surprising – in 2021, GNN reported that German scientists had found that being surrounding by a wide variety of birds can offer increasing life satisfaction equivalent to $150 per week of added income.