Skip to main content
Home | Episode 85: Feed the Birds, Feel Better

WBU Podcast

John and Brian are joined by a special guest, Holly Merker. She is an author, podcast host, birding guide, and nature-based wellness provider. They discuss how watching and feeding birds creates a sense of wonder and community, a sense of connection with people, and can change the direction of your life. Plus, a special callout for the Mindful Birding podcast episode 13. 

Birds Mentioned
Western Meadowlark 

Studies Mentioned
Mindful Birding Network, Scientific Studies
Health Benefits of Bird Feeding & Watching for People 

  • People living in areas with more birds are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress (University of Exeter, 2017). You don’t have to know anything about birds to benefit. 
  • When we step outside into nature, chemical responses are released inside our bodies. Cortisol, the hormone that flips into overdrive when we are stressed, starts to lower. Studies show 20-40 minutes of nature exposure lowers cortisol rates. 
  • Birdsong reduces anxiety and irrational thoughts (Max Planck Institute, 2022) 
  • Seeing or hearing birds is associated with an improvement in mental wellbeing that can last up to eight hours. (King’s College, October 2022) 
  • Feeding birds may provide an important tool for engaging people with nature to the benefit of both people and conservation. (Cox & Gaston, 2016) 
  • The intimacy of being in nature and having a careful and protective connection with the birds can make all the difference in your day. You will start to care for the birds and see them as friends in your life. Spending time outside for 10 minutes a day has been proven to boost serotonin and dopamine levels (American Psychiatric Institute). (Wild Bird Feeding Institute) 
  • Taking a chance on bird feeding can end up changing the directory of thought patterns, emotion processes, and relationship management according to the Audubon Bird Guide. (Wild Bird Feeding Institute) 
  • Bird feeding helps protect and create a healthy environment for the birds and inspires you to create a positive change in your mental health. All these things can inspire a change and help influence long-lasting positive effects for both you and the birds in your neighborhood, and help you connect with others in the hobby. (Wild Bird Feeding Institute) 
  • Studies show many benefits of nature and birds on mental and physical wellbeing, including: lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, relieving stress, boosting the immune system, strengthening the vascular system, and boosting mood 
  • “We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix 
  • People who feed birds regularly feel more relaxed and connected to nature when they watch garden birds, and perceive that bird feeding is beneficial for bird welfare while investing time in minimizing associated risks. (Cox and Gaston, 2016) 
  • Species likeability increased for people who fed birds regularly and who could name the species. We found a strong correlation between the number of species that a person could correctly identify and how connected to nature they felt when they watched garden birds. Species richness was preferred over a greater number of individuals of the same species. (Cox and Gaston, 2015) 

To find a store near you or shop on-line, visit www.wbu.com/store-locator
To learn how you can open your own Wild Birds Unlimited, visit www.wbufranchise.com 

Western Meadowlark Sound provided by Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.