One of the healthiest and most stimulating businesses in tourism today is bird watching, which fills the spirit of travelers and provides information. It is a developing tourism practice, when now it stands out as a way to improve human health, particularly mental health, and is supported by researchers and experts from various parts of the world.
Bird watching is currently a significant form of nature tourism that many people follow boldly and in various parts of the planet, precisely to perceive differences. Some experts mention that people who live in neighborhoods with more birds, bushes, and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress. Such an affirmation is disseminated by a study by researchers from the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, the British Ornithological Fund and the University of Queensland, Australia.
The research, which involved hundreds of people, found that being able to see birds and greenery close to home has beneficial effects on mental health, whether in urban neighborhoods or greener suburban areas. Hence, in addition to the birds in the neighborhood, observation trips are also very healthy.
The mentioned study evaluated the mental health of more than 270 people of different ages, socioeconomic levels and ethnic origins. They concluded that those who spent less time outdoors than usual in the week prior to being interviewed tended to report more anxiety or depression.
Better health associated
After conducting extensive surveys of morning and afternoon bird numbers, the study found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with higher numbers of birds than average that people could see.
The study accounted for common bird varieties such as robins, blackbirds, tits and ravens, but found no correlation between bird species and mental health. The difference seems to be made by the number of birds that people could see from their windows, in their gardens or in their neighborhoods. This can also be translated into hotel windows in the countryside, or the accommodation offered by the so widespread rural tourism today.
Previous research found that people do not have a special ability to identify different species, suggesting that, for most, it is the interaction with birds, and not a specific type of bird, that improves mental well-being.
In this sense, Dr. Daniel Cox from the University of Exeter said that this study begins to clarify the role that some key elements of nature play in our mental well-being. Hence, the positive association of birds, shrubs, and trees with mental health holds true even after adjusting for variations such as deprivation status, neighborhoods, household income, age, and a wide range of other sociodemographic factors.
Costa Rica, a bird-watchers paradise
Countries like Costa Rica have extensive experience in terms of bird watching trips, and groups of visitors have the company of expert guides in terms of the different types of songs, and the places and customs of birds.
Another study, this time led by Dr Cox and Professor Kevin Gaston, both from the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Exeter, found that bird watching makes people feel more relaxed and connected to nature.