Birdwatching: An Ally for your Mental Health

Several studies reveal that spending time outdoors birdwatching is very positive for the mind and well-being. We tell you more about it to encourage you to do it.

bird in a tree

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LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: Avistamiento de aves: un aliado para tu salud mental

Did you know that birdwatching and being more connected with the natural environment that surrounds you can bring multiple benefits to your health? And best of all, you don't have to be an expert in birdwatching to experience that small change of perspective and appreciate, even for a few minutes, what happens in nature and admire its various species through the senses. You just need to be curious and dare to discover a new world full of shapes, colors, and sounds.

Birds have a sensory spectrum similar to that of humans, based on sight and hearing. That is why we have many affinities with them that are obvious when we take the time to observe them. Never before has it been so important to recover and strengthen that relationship with nature, so paying more attention and experiencing the need to be in contact with wildlife makes more and more sense.

Why birdwatching?

It is no secret to anyone that spending time in nature is good for the mind. For example, taking a walk in a park can reduce stress and improve your mood. Several investigations suggest that birds could have a particularly beneficial effect on people's mental health. This is confirmed by a study carried out by the University of Kiel, which sought to analyze the importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe.

Research involving 26,000 people from 26 European countries showed that bird species richness is positively related to life satisfaction, an effect comparable to income generation. On the other hand, it points out that adding 10% more bird diversity to a community increases people's sense of life.

There are those who think that birdwatching is an activity that is limited to scholars of the subject. However, it is a passion that anyone can develop. Even if we don't live in the country, there are birds everywhere and practically at any time, even in big cities. They can be found on the way to work, on the lunch break, on the way to university or college. In addition, the information collected by the bird watcher adds to the global knowledge that nourishes the conservation of biodiversity.

Another benefit worth noting is that birdwatching requires a state of reflection and introspection, which has a similar effect to meditation. Direct contact with nature increases the circulation of endorphins, lowers stress levels and connects us with the natural environment.

Sometimes this passion for birds requires a lot of physical dexterity. The most curious go out into the countryside to look for the best species, with long walks that make this activity an adventure. For this reason, birdwatching is also a fun way to improve your physical condition.

Likewise, it refines the senses, curiosity, and memory. You must have a good degree of concentration to learn to distinguish the different songs of birds. This ear education involves putting your senses in harmony and always being alert. Another positive point is that you can do birdwatching in any month of the year. There are several easily accessible routes and natural reserve areas where you can take tours and visit the observatories.

Latin America is a leader in birdwatching and Colombia is paradise

The American continent is ideal for bird lovers, as it has many destinations to enjoy unforgettable sightings thanks to its immense biodiversity. This vast territory is made up of humid, Andean, and dry forests, extensive savannahs, glaciers, mountain ranges, moors, colorful rivers, coral reefs, mangroves, wetlands, and paradisiacal islands. Each region has its own geographical characteristics, climatologies and specific ecosystems, which makes it possible for different species of animals to exist, where birds stand out. Endemic species have even been found that are not found anywhere else in the world.

Among the most favorable destinations for this activity are Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela. However, Colombia takes first place, as it is the country with the greatest diversity of birds in the world. It has more than 1,900 registered species (20% of the global total according to figures from WWF Colombia), of which 84 are endemic, according to the Alexander Von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute.

Read also: Gallery: 10 birds of Colombia unique in the world

Its strategic location, surrounded by two oceans and its topographic characteristics, make Colombia a true paradise for resident and migratory birds. Since 2015, the South American country has been awarded 11 times as the nation with the highest number of species in the ranking of "Global Big Day: the largest birdwatching meeting in the world." This has boosted the growth of bird tourism and has positioned Colombia as the main international destination to carry out this activity, opening space for a great opportunity for economic development in the country's regions.

We find ourselves in a world where technology covers a large part of our lives, and we spend a lot of time glued to a screen, which is why people must give themselves the opportunity to reconnect with the environment. Human well-being is linked to the natural environment in countless ways, helping us breathe easier and discover new things. In particular, birdwatching puts us in contact with curious and adventurous people, it is definitely a great help to disconnect a bit from reality and urban life.

Given this potential that nature itself offers, it is important to encourage more and more people to live these experiences. Without overlooking the importance of following rules of conduct that minimize our impacts and help protect the environment and the species that inhabit it.

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