We see them nearly everywhere we go, we hear them every day, they live in every environment, and now, two new studies have shown their mere presence makes us happier.
German research has even found that being surrounding by a wide variety of birds can offer increasing life satisfaction equivalent to $150 per week of added income.
The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research took data from the 2012 European quality of Life Survey to measure how species diversity in birds affected 26,000 people in 26 European countries.
“According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species,” explains the study’s lead author, Joel Methorst a professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, in a press release.
“We also examined the socio-economic data of the people that were surveyed, and, much to our surprise, we found that avian diversity is as important for their life satisfaction as is their income,” explains Prof. Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese, also at Goethe University.
On bird song and well-being
In the second study of note, California Polytechnic University covertly subjected Colorado hikers to a test that measured their sense of well-being by placing speakers that played a variety of bird song along certain sections of a popular hiking trial network—then interviewing the hikers about their experience.
“While the bigger picture of nature’s restorative properties is likely to involve multiple senses, our study is the first to experimentally manipulate a single one (sound) in the field and demonstrate its importance to human experiences in nature,” said Danielle Ferraro, to the university press.
Indeed, hikers on the trials that perceived both more sounds and more varied sounds said they felt better about life, and about their experience hiking, than those who heard both fewer sounds, and less sound altogether.
The benefits of birding—hearing their song, noticing the species around us—is a good thing too. A recent report from the Audubon Society found that sales of bird feeders, bird food, and birding apps have all increased during the pandemic, while participations in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s annual Global Big Day 2020 shattered all previous records.