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Is it Just the Bluebird that Brings Happiness?



Here in the UK, many of us enjoy putting out food for the garden birds - especially during the winter months.

Meanwhile, a new study by the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research reveals that greater bird biodiversity brings greater joy to people, concluding that conservation is just as important for human well-being as financial security. 

The study, published in Ecological Economics, focused on European residents, and determined that happiness correlated with a specific number of bird species.

Lead researcher Joel Methorst says "The happiest inhabitants in Europe are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species".  

According to the study authors, birds are some of the best indicators of biological diversity in any given area because they are usually seen or heard in their environments, especially in urban areas. However, more bird species were found near natural green spaces, forested areas and bodies of water.

In the USA, birding has become a more common and accessible hobby during the pandemic.

The Annual Garden Bird Watch

Every year during the last weekend of January, we are all encouraged here in the UK to spend an hour watching nature and counting the birds in the garden, back yard, local park or even from a window or balcony.

We are asked to write down the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds provides forms and charts to use during the Watch with little photos of the various birds to make it easier for those who are less experienced in identifying the different birds.

The results can be mailed or uploaded online.  

By counting the birds on our patch, we are helping to take a snapshot of how they are doing.  This annual garden bird watch has been going on for so long that the RSPB now have over forty years of data, helping them to increase their understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife.

Feeding the birds

Wherever you are and in whatever part of the world, you can always feed your own local birds.

Here are five top tips:

Choose your food.  Of course it depends on the type of birds but dried mealworms, seed mixes, fat balls, table scraps and even chopped up fruit can all be offered.  You will soon learn which are the most popular and well received.

Pick your feeder.  Again, different birds have different habits.  Some will love a hanging feeder, others will prefer to feed off the ground or a bird table and, of course, if you are lucky enough to have humming birds then they have very different requirements.

Put out water.  Birds need to drink and bathe every day even in the depths of winter so please provide suitable clean containers which are regularly filled with water.

Keep it clean.  Clean your feeders and water containers regularly to keep the birds healthy and happy.

Enjoy the show!   Make the most of the time you could spend watching the birds and being entertained by them when they come to take advantage of your hospitality.

All birds can bring us happiness whatever color!