9 Ways Bird Watching Can Help Your Mental Health

Bird feeder and birds in winter


Bird watching can help reduce levels of anxiety, depression and stress by keeping your mind calm, active and entertained, according to outdoor experts. The team from BillyOh.com have revealed nine ways that bird watching can positively impact your mental well-being, with the list also including the opportunity to get outside and socialise with friends and family.  

Mental health has become an increasingly publicised issue in the past few years and is now talked about more openly than ever before, and keeping an eye on feathered friends can boost your mood in a variety of ways. A recent study by the University of Exeter revealed that bird watching increases feelings of relaxation and has a positive association with improved mental health – regardless of a range of socio-demographic factors, including neighbourhood, income, age and ethnicity.


There was no link established between different species of birds and mental well-being, that many struggle to identify anyway. This suggests that it’s generally the number of birds observed from windows, gardens or elsewhere that could lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The study also found that those who spent less time outdoors than usual in a given week were more likely to struggle with their mental health. A spokesperson for BillyOh.com said: “Sometimes we all need a few minutes to get away from the stresses and strains of the modern world. 

“Bird watching really can be a one size fits all way to improve your mental health and well-being, regardless of your location or experience and if you have a few minutes or hours. It requires no money, just your eyes and ears, and is an ideal hobby whether you’re seeking solitude or an opportunity to socialise. Stimulating your senses, getting outside in new scenery, keeping your mind active or peaceful – it can all help to easy any worries you may have.”


Here are the nine BillyOh.com benefits of bird watching for mental health and wellbeing:


1 Keep calm 

Spending some time calmly observing birds’ activities can give you some peaceful time to yourself, providing the opportunity for quiet contemplation away from the many distractions of the fast paced modern world, even if it’s just from your window. 

2 Social hobby 

3 Generation family on country walk in winter

Pic: Shutterstock

Bird watching can be a great way to help you bond with friends and family of all ages, or an enjoyable reason to spend time with new acquaintances – particularly for anyone struggling with feelings of loneliness. 

3 Get outside 

Spending time getting some fresh air outdoors improves your concentration, memory and mood, when compared to being stuck inside, with bird watching providing a great excuse at all times of the year.    

4 Natural benefits 

Stimulating your senses with the sights, sounds and smells of nature while out and about watching birds can keep your mind busy and provide a pleasant distraction from the stresses and strains of everyday life. 

5 New scenery 

Particularly during the colder winter months, it’s easy to get comfortable in your own home and garden, but bird watching is an opportunity to explore the great British countryside or even just take a short trip to a local park. 

6 Active mind 

Blue tit outside birdbox

Pic: Shutterstock

Trying to look for and identify species of birds is a fantastic way to stay alert and aid cognition for both old and young twitchers, even if it takes you a while to start successfully differentiating between different ones. 

7 Exercise effect 

Walking around your garden or beyond while watching birds will reduce feelings of stress and help other mental health issues, with physical exercise well known to raise your mood as the body releases chemicals called endorphins. 

8 Meaningful research 

Robin in winter sat in a tree

Pic: Shutterstock

Keeping an eye on our feathered friends can also give you a hobby with a sense of purpose, as many ornithological organisations and charities need contributions to their surveys, counts and research from amateur bird watchers across the country.  

9 Easy entertainment 

Boredom is well known to adversely impact on your mental health, but bird watching can give you something to do with no minimum amount of time, money or skill required – all that’s required is you, your eyes and nature.

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!