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Seeing or Listening to Birds Makes Us Happier


Canada warbler, 2011 (photo by Cris Hamilton)

14 December 2022

Just one week away from the winter solstice birds are not abundant in Pittsburgh and are certainly not singing, but it’s still good for us to seek them out. A new study says that the sight or sound of birds makes us happier.

Published in October in Scientific Reports, the three-year study enlisted 1,200+ participants in the UK, EU and US. Using a phone app called Urban Mind, participants were asked three times a day whether they could see or hear birds plus questions about their mental well-being. The data showed that being near birds improved the mental health of people both with and without depression. The good mood lasts 8 hours.

It certainly works for me. I was recently upset by sad news of a friend and could not stop thinking about it. Hours later, still mourning, I went out for a walk. While my brain was busy with sadness a noisy crow flew over and drew my attention, “Hey!” I stopped to look at the crow and my brain shifted gears. Already I felt happier. Thank you, crows.

American crows (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the cloud cover, take the time to get outdoors or watch your bird feeders for a splash of happiness.

Northern cardinal in winter, Jan 2019 (photo by Steve Gosser)

In the meantime get happy with the sound of a northern cardinal in May.

Read more about the study at Being Around Birds Boosts Our Mental Well-Being Even 8 Hours After Hearing Them.

(photos by Cris Hamilton, Wikimedia Commons and Steve Gosser)

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