Birds can Help us Through This. Here's How.

Spring migration is underway and many of us are homebound. How do we respond?

In these unsettled times, connecting with the steady rhythms of the natural world feels more important than ever. After all, studies have consistently shown that being outdoors can improve our mental health. But for many of us, the options are now limited. Springtime birding trips are canceled, visits to local parks feel risky, and, in some harder-hit cities, even casual walks are rare. For the first time in many of our lives, birds are on the move and we're not.

So, what do we do? At ABC, we're promoting the idea of Bird Therapy and encouraging everyone to spend a few minutes observing birds each day. The idea is simple: Birds bring balance to our lives, and if we can't go to them, we'll let them come to us.

Baltimore Orioles can help us do bird therapy. Photo by Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock

Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock

How Do I Participate?

It's easy: Just bird. Since many of us are restricted to our homes right now, we'll focus on watching from porches, yards, or even through windows. Take photos or notes of what you're seeing and share with our community. You can do this on social media by using the hashtag #BirdTherapy or by simply leaving comments at the bottom of this blog post.

Every week, ABC staff will contribute ideas on how people can not only appreciate birds but do something to help our feathered friends.

Bird Therapy is for everyone, regardless of age and birding skill. The only prerequisite is a desire to connect with the birds and share with others.

Why Bird Therapy?

As many birders can attest, birds just make us feel better. By paying close attention to their presence, we wake to the present moment, letting go of stress and other worries. When things are tumultuous, they remind us of the natural world's enduring power, providing a source of joy and stability. And, during periods of isolation — like now — they connect us.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Photo by Mike Truchon/Shutterstock

Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Photo by Mike Truchon/Shutterstock

Bird Therapy Tips

There's no right way to do  Bird Therapy. We all relate differently to birds and will find ourselves in different circumstances. Still, keeping a few things in mind can help make the most of this exercise.

Don't rush: Before beginning, sit quietly for a few minutes. Observe your breathing. Watch the thoughts that come and go. Relax. When you start observing birds, be patient. These aren't ordinary times and typical timetables don't apply.

Stay positive: Being at home is difficult, but it isn't without silver linings. As life slows down, we have a chance to observe things we typically overlook. As plane and car travel become less frequent, it's easier to listen to birds. And, as spring arrives, so do millions of birds.

Listen: We're typically guided by our sense of sight, and it's easy to ignore the full range of sounds our ears provide. Take a minute to close your eyes and listen to the sounds that surround you.

Share: During these trying times, we need each other, and we want to hear from you. Please take a moment to share what you're seeing: Your photo or observations may brighten someone else's day. Conversely, check this blog and ABC's Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly to find out what others are seeing.

Enjoy: Birds have inspired humans for thousands of years. This spring, we could really use their inspiration. Take a look outside and let them lift your spirits.

Share What You're Seeing! Bird Therapy Gallery

On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, friends of American Bird Conservancy have used the #BirdTherapy hashtag to share their observations — and some truly remarkable photos. This slideshow features just a few of the birds our Twitter followers have seen this spring. What about you? We hope you'll join us on our social platforms and share your photos, too, with the #BirdTherapy hashtag. If you're not on social media, though, it's no problem! Just use the comment section below to share what you're seeing and how the birds are helping you. We'd love to hear from you.

  • Eastern Towhee by Eddie Ledbetter