Birdwatching Is Great For Your Health

22nd November 2017

British researchers say people living in neighborhoods with more birds have lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress than those that do not.

Portland has a wealth of bird-watching opportunities at parks and refuges, but the best place to start is in your own backyard.

Not surprisingly, bird watching can have a calming effect, says Joe Liebezeit, aviation conservation program manager for Portland Audubon.

“It's just an enjoyable experience to see wildlife in action,” he said. “It relaxes you. You know, you come home from a long day at work or you wake up in the morning and you want to do something, you want to look at nature and in an urban area that can sometimes be hard to find.”

Liebezeit says getting birds to come to your backyard can start with simple plantings, one or two feeders and a water source.

“We really encourage people to plant native plants in their backyard things that are going to attract wildlife, and it's great to have a diversity of bird feeder,” he said. “You can have them at different levels and different types of seeds to offer birds a variety of things."

With winter approaching, providing a different variety of seeds helps keep resident species fat and happy when it's cold.

“So things like jays, chickadees, song sparrows, a lot of the finches are year-round residents,” he said. “Those birds stay year-round, and they love seeds during this time of year.”

To help identify those birds, it's best to have binoculars and a birding guide or birding app on your smartphone.

“There are a lot of good books out there, good resources out there to identify birds. There's field guides -- all kinds of field guides,” Liebezeit said. “ There's Sibley Field guide, which is a really good one.”

Liebezeit said there are simple questions to ask to help identify birds: What's the size of the bird? What is the beak shape of the bird? Is it a long beak or a short beak? What are the colors of the bird? Look at those first things that you can grab onto about the bird and that will help you identify them.

Liebezeit said he built a career around birds thanks to his parents who had a feeder that he checked every morning.

“It inspired me for an entire career working with birds and working to protect natural areas,” he said.

Another good way to get into birding is the Christmas Bird count, which is being held this year on Dec. 30. Liebezeit says you don't have to be a star birder to get involved.

In fact, Audubon tries to pair beginners with experienced birders.

Article source KATU