Let the Headphones Go, Listen to Birds Singing!
“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.” – Claude Monet
Birds are truly spectacular creatures. Not only are they the most lively and colorful inhabitants of our blue planet, but they also fascinate us with their heart warming songs. New studies demonstrate that being around birds is also good for our mental health.
“By using the Urban Mind app, we have for the first time shown the direct link between seeing or hearing birds and positive mood,” explains Ryan Hammoud who is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.
The Urban Mind is a smartphone application that was born out of a collaboration between King’s College London and landscape architects J&L Gibbons and the arts foundation Nomad Projects. For the study, participants who downloaded the app were instructed to answer questions about their mental health and daily encounters with birds three times a day.
The study which took place between April 2018 and October 2021, provided the researchers with a total of 26,856 assessments from 1292 individuals living all over the world. After performing a series of statistical analyses, Hammoud and colleagues found that seeing birds or hearing their sweet chirps have quite positive effects on our mental health. And the effects can last up to eight hours!
The researchers also observed similar effects in people with depression. What is interesting is that the results could only be attributed to seeing/hearing birds and not just seeing trees, plants, or hearing water at the time of assessment.
By using a smartphone app, the researchers were able to capture the participants’ real-time responses to seeing or hearing birds in real-life contexts. Though causal links cannot be established with 100% accuracy, the study findings clearly indicate that being around birds is beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
- 1. Hammoud, R., Tognin, S., Burgess, L., Bergou, N., Smythe, M., Gibbons, J., Davidson, N., Afifi, A., Bakolis, I., & Mechelli, A. (2022). Smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment reveals mental health benefits of birdlife. Scientific Reports,12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-20207-6
- 2. King's College London. (2022, October 27). Feeling chirpy: Being around birds is linked to lasting mental health benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221027093319.htm