Birdsong improves mental wellbeing for 90% of people, UK survey finds | Birds
Birdwatching and listening to birdsong has a positive impact on the well-being of more than nine out of ten people, according to a survey marking the highest number of wildlife in gardens in the world.
People are invited to boost their mental health and help scientists by spending an hour this weekend counting birds in their local garden or park for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.
Nearly 700,000 people attended last year, counting more than 11 million birds, with the house sparrow being the most frequently seen visitor to the garden, followed by the blue tit and starling.
RSPB ornithologists fear the recent cold spell in Britain could affect sightings this year, with the weather increasing the mortality of smaller birds, such as long-tailed tits and wrens. Cold conditions can also encourage less frequent visitors to the garden to show up at bird feeders, including redpolls and brambles.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the RSPB found that 88% of UK adults said spending time outdoors and enjoying the natural world was important to them, with 53% saying it was very important, while 91% said agreed that seeing birds and hearing birdsong had a positive impact. on mental health and well-being.
Spending time in woods, wetlands, and other natural spaces has been shown through various studies to improve mental health and well-being.
RSPB President Dr Amir Khan said: “As a GP, I know how important access to green spaces is to our physical and mental well-being. Watching blue tits and bullfinches enjoy the feeders in my garden is a constant source of comfort for me, and being on the frontline of the NHS I am very aware that comfort is something we all need more than ever.
For four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has alerted scientists to the rises and falls of bird species. Observation data from last year indicated a revival of the disease-affected greenfinch, while over the decades the survey also noted for the first time the precipitous decline of song thrushes, which have declined by 81% from the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979. It was 20th in last year’s ranking, seen in just 8% of gardens.
Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, said: “Whatever you see – a blackbird, 20 sparrows or no birds at all – it all counts. It helps us build that vital overall picture of how our garden birds are doing from year to year. With so many challenges for our birds now, it is more important than ever to submit your results. Our garden birds are counting on you.