Why Watch Birds? – The many benefits of birdwatching explained

To an outsider, birding or birdwatching can seem like a strange thing to do. It’s just a bunch of weirdos standing around with binoculars creeping on birds, isn’t it? That couldn’t be further from the truth and in this article, you will learn the many amazing benefits of watching birds.

There are proven health benefits of birding also and we will find out exactly what they are. You will also read some quotes from birders all across the globe explaining why they watch birds.

1. It’s Fun!

If you’re not a birder, you might find this to be a bit of a stretch. How can it be fun to watch birds?

Watching birds is like watching children in a playground; you never know what they’re going to do. It can be fascinating, intriguing, majestic, beautiful, tender, and sometimes…just plain hilarious!

Silver Gulls are always entertaining to watch – image by Barry Callister Photography.

It’s like watching a movie where you have no idea what is going on and you can’t predict what’s going to happen. It’s pure entertainment from start to finish.

Find out what birds do for fun in this article here on the blog.

2. Birds Are Fascinating

Bird behavior is unpredictable and so totally unlike our own, and this is what makes it so fascinating. Some behaviors are easy to figure out but others can be so bizarre they leave you scratching your head wondering why a bird would want to do that.

A White-faced Heron standing with its beak open and tongue out – image by Barry Callister Photography.

Each species has its little quirks, every time you observe a new bird species, you see behavior that you haven’t seen before. There is an endless fascination with birdwatching.

Probably the thing that fascinates us most about birds is their ability to fly. Many people have dreamed of being able to fly at some point in their lives. I know I have…and still do.

3. Birds Are Beautiful

From the way they glide effortlessly across the skies, to their endless array of colors, sounds, and shapes; birds are blessed with so much beauty. Being in the presence of that beauty is breathtaking and humbling.

A Chestnut-breasted Coronet. Just 10.5 cm tall – image by AGAMI stock from Getty Images.

Even when cleaning themselves, birds are beautiful. The shapes they make with their bodies and wings while they preen themselves can be the most beautiful of any animal.

Discover 10 beautiful Parrots that can be found in NSW, Australia in this post here.

4. For Research

A lot of birdwatching is done in the name of research and it’s not done just by scientists either.

Just like us and every other living thing on the planet, birds are an important piece of the puzzle that makes up a healthy planet. Keeping an eye on them and their habitats gives us an idea of the state of the world and what we might need to change to keep it livable for us all.

A trio of birdwatchers on a beach – image by step2626 from Getty Images Signature.

Just like in the early mining days when canaries were taken down mineshafts as a warning system to keep the miners safe from carbon monoxide gas; birds are our global warning system. We have to watch them closely.

Mining foreman R. Thornburg shows a small cage with a canary used for testing carbon monoxide gas in 1928.

Scientists get some help from everyday birdwatchers in this regard too. There are global birdwatching apps where people can enter their sightings. Scientists use this information to study and help global bird populations.

5. It’s An Easy And Inexpensive Hobby

Now, this depends on how serious you get with your birdwatching but it can be a very inexpensive hobby. All you need to get started are your eyes, your ears, and some birds.

A good pair of binoculars is a great way to get a closer view of the birds. Many good binoculars don’t cost very much.

Binoculars from the bushes – image by maradek from Getty Images.

Like any hobby, the more into it you get, the more expensive it tends to get. Hardcore birders will spend big bucks, not just on their binoculars and other gear but also on trips around the world to watch birds.

Discover the gear that birdwatchers need in this post I’ve written.

6. It’s Good For Your Health

Watching birds is very good for your health. It is not just the physical health benefits that we get from being out in the fresh air and walking around but research points to it also boosting mental health.

A happy doctor and patient. She’s a birdwatcher…clearly! – image by DAPA images from Canva.

Studies have been done that show a direct link between the quality and availability of neighborhood green spaces and better general well-being; as well as reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. And it’s not just getting out into nature that helps.

This same study found that having more bird species in the environment as well as watching birds both have a positive effect on people’s psychological well-being. Listening to bird songs was also shown to contribute toward attention restoration and stress recovery.

In another study entitled The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe, researchers assessed the relationship between bird species richness and life satisfaction, comparing the increase in life satisfaction caused by proportional changes in bird species richness and income.

They found an increase in bird species richness by 10% resulted in an increase in life satisfaction by a value of 0.052, while an increase in income by 10% increased life satisfaction by just 0.034.

7. It’s Exciting

I’ve already mentioned how unpredictable bird behavior can be and that’s just one reason why birdwatching is exciting.

Imagine witnessing the grace, power, and precision of an Eastern Osprey diving into the waves and coming up with a fish. I have seen this many times and I tell you, it’s a rush.

An Easter Osprey clutching a fish in the surf – image by Barry Callister Photography.

Picture yourself standing there on your front lawn while a Willie Wagtail flies circles around you, 2 feet from your face, catching insects. This happened to me years ago and it took my breath away.

Bird watching is nothing if not exciting.

8. It’s A Social Activity

There are millions of birdwatchers all over the world and more and more people are getting into it all the time.

It is a great way to meet new people and connect via something you are all passionate about. Common interests are great icebreakers when it comes to meeting new people. Birdwatching is one of those situations where when you meet people who also do it, you feel an instant connection as you know you have a shared passion.

A group of birdwatchers – image by pelicankate from Getty Images Signature.

There are birdwatching clubs, groups, trips, events, competitions…there are endless ways to meet people birdwatching.

Not a social person? Learn to birdwatch from home in this article.

9. Connection To Nature

We are learning more and more all the time about how important connecting to nature is.

You can feel it whenever you walk in a forest or on the beach; there is something so uplifting and energizing about it.

A nature scene from R. J. Hamer Arboretum in Olinda, Victoria, Aus. – image by Barry Callister Photography.

The scientific studies I’ve linked to above prove that being in nature doesn’t just feel good – it is good for you.

We should all connect with nature every once in a while and watching birds is a fantastic way to do it.

10. It’s Relaxing

This point ties into the previous one. Connecting with nature through birdwatching can be so relaxing.

When you are out there in woodland, wetland, or any other natural place; you forget all your troubles and stresses.

A woman breathing in the relaxation in nature – image by amriphoto from Getty Images Signature.

Listening to the sound of the wind whispering through the trees, water gently lapping on the shore, bird song echoing across lush green earth…can’t you just feel the relaxation already?

11. It’s Great For All Ages

Do you have kids? Birdwatching is great for the whole family. There is no age limit to birdwatching.

A father and son birdwatching – image by Angelafoto from Getty Images Signature.

Young or old, fit or not, you can still get involved in birdwatching which is another thing that makes it so great. Some hobbies can involve a dangerous element that makes them inaccessible to younger or older people; not birdwatching. It is perfectly safe and has elements that appeal to everyone.

You’ll find some great birdwatching activities for preschoolers in this article.

12. It’s Addictive

Because it is such a fun, fascinating, inexpensive, healthy, exciting, social, and relaxing activity that is great for all ages; birdwatching can be very addictive.

Once you get into it and start creating your life list; a list of birds that you want to see in your lifetime, you will start getting so excited when you see a new species and tick it off your list! It’s the age-old “collect them all” mentality.

A poor addicted birdwatcher – image by Mike Cherim from Getty Images Signature.

You will never get to see every species on Earth, there are over 11,000 of them. The record for the most birds seen in a lifetime is currently held by Claes-Göran Cederlund, a Swede who ticked 9761 birds off his list.

If you do decide to get into birdwatching after reading this article, be very careful…before you know it, you might be hopelessly addicted!

Birdwatcher Testimonials

I could not complete this article without adding some quotes from my fellow birders. I reached out on social media and ask birdwatchers why they watch birds. These are the responses I got:

“Watching birds or indeed any kind of nature is good for my soul, it calms me down loads and makes me feel better, also I always marvel at the difference between species and different methods of flight and feeding.”

Derek C.

“When you take the time to closely observe any animal, you can see just how complex and unique each individual can be, and how they coexist and thrive. its incredible to see. and sometimes, the things they do are hilarious- i saw a sparrow throw itself down a dirty incline in an attempt to roll in the dust yesterday!”

Amy B.
A White-cheeked Honeyeater.

“I just love nature and going out in the country side bird nesting and bird sighting. I’ve done it since I was 7 or 8 years old and I’m 70 now. I just like looking at them and I’m fascinated by the reactions they do in flights in the sky. Like sky larks or eagles, hawks and kites, owls and buzzards, swooping and soaring in the sky; they are just superb watching.”

Roy M.

“I’m an old-aged pensioner now and do a lot of watching birds at my window . It has become my new ‘hobby ‘ and I’m learning something new every day about what i see.”

Ann W.
A female Red-backed Fairywren.

And why do I watch birds?

They fascinate me. I find them beautiful, awe-inspiring, funny, intriguing, and magical all at once. When you are watching a bird and it locks eyes with you, there is a deep connection there that I find hard to explain. There is an intelligence beyond that glint in their eyes that we could only hope to understand.

I also yearn to fly as they do. The immense freedom that symbolizes is bewitching to me.

Are you ready to watch birds now too?


Barry Callister

Barry is a bird photographer and bird watcher with over 7 years of experience. He runs his own YouTube channel about photography and promotes his nature photography on his personal website barrycallisterphotography.com.au.

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