I started bird feeding in 2020, during the thick of the COVID pandemic.
I really needed it.
With the days blending together and more time being spent inside, bird feeding was an easy way to connect with nature. I became addicted (in a good way) to watching the birds and logging them on my Merlin Bird ID app. It quickly grew into a tremendously rewarding hobby.
Something I didn’t expect was the added health benefits. Since I started feeding the birds, my anxiety levels significantly dropped. I feel better if I take just a few moments to appreciate nature right outside my window.
Bird feeding is not only a fun and enjoyable activity, but it also has several legit health benefits. Here are four significant health benefits of bird feeding, supported by scientific studies.
1. Stress Relief
Watching birds at a feeder (or anywhere outdoors) is a calming and relaxing activity. Feeding birds reduces stress and anxiety levels, which can lead to improved mental health.
A study published in October 2022 in Scientific Reports found that seeing or hearing birds improved mental wellbeing for up to eight hours.
Another study published in Ecological Economics is one I love to share with others. The study found being near 14 unique bird species equated to the happiness gained by earning an extra $150 a month. Put that into your mental bank account!
2. Improved Physical Health
Bird feeding can also have physical health benefits. For example, filling and cleaning bird feeders is a good excuse to spend more time outdoors. I especially appreciate how re-filling my feeders gets me outside for a few minutes in the winter. I need an excuse to get outside when it’s -15.
Numerous studies point to spending time outside leading to improved physical health. Studies find spending time in nature is associated with lower blood pressure, improved immune system function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases (Yale).
3. Increased Social Interaction
Bird feeding can be a social activity that brings people together. Since I started this hobby, I’ve met new people and have had numerous conversations with others about birds. You can also join bird watching groups and share your love of birds with others.
Numerous studies find that participating in nature-based activities, such as bird feeding, are associated with increased social bonding and feelings of connectedness with others.
4. Educational and Learning Opportunities
Bird feeding can be an educational activity for children and adults. I’ve learned about so many different birds watching them through my window, giving me an appreciation for nature and wildlife. I’ve also taken part in Project FeederWatch a couple of times, allowing me to play a small role in North American scientific bird counts.
A Parenting Exchange article highlights that bird feeding can be an effective way to teach children about ecology and nature.
Beyond bringing a ton of fun birds to your yard, bird feeding can be great for your mental and physical health too. I hope this article helped inspire you to consider the hobby, or appreciate the birds in your neighborhood. A bird a day keeps the doctor way!