By Otterbein Granville resident Kathie H.
Have you observed bluebirds? Brilliant, almost iridescent, blue feathers on the back, head, and wings, with a beautiful rusty upper chest. A welcome surprise to any garden or window bird-feeding station.
Friendly and unbothered by human presence, they often sit for extended periods and observe us like we observe them. They prefer mealworms, in case you are trying to attract them. But like any of us, given our favorite addictive food, say chocolate maybe, they can make themselves sick on too many. Read the observations of Julie Zickafoose, a naturalist in southern Ohio, in her book, “The Bluebird Effect.”
Birding Is Growing in Popularity
Our own health, however, can be enhanced by bird watching. Not just bluebirds. Our woods and fields are filled with avian activity.
Birding has become like a sport, with even travel agents offering trips just for birders. The Audubon Society estimates there are nearly 47 million birders in the U.S. alone. For new aficionados, they suggest consulting the American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics to minimize the impact on wildlife habitats.
But right at home, there are opportunities to participate in the annual Backyard Bird Count and other helpful research promoted by Cornell Ornithology Laboratory.
And if you search on your computer for “bird cams live,” you can observe everything from eagles to osprey, falcons, and owls. Of course, a stroll around the Otterbein Granville campus with eyes and ears on alert will delight you with many unexpected avian encounters. Listen, observe, and enjoy.
Birdwatching Is Good for Your Health
According to a recent article in Scientific Reports, “Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being. These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression, the most common mental illness across the world.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the popularity and effects of birdwatching were documented using a smartphone application and self-reported well-being in a variety of real-life contexts. A growing body of evidence reveals many benefits of observing avian activity, including a reduction in anxiety and paranoia just from listening to birdsong.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports, “There’s a lot about birds in terms of their charisma, their behavior, and their accessibility that makes them this perfect group of animals that people can really relate to and resonate with.”
The Scientific Reports abstract concludes, “These findings have potential implications for both environmental and wildlife protection and mental healthcare policies. Specific measures, aimed at preserving and increasing everyday encounters with birdlife in urban areas, should be implemented.”
Welcoming Birds and Birdwatchers to Otterbein Granville
Otterbein Granville can be proud that, according to the Ohio Bluebird Society report, there were 106 bluebirds that fledged last year in Licking County. Otterbein Granville had 82 of them.
Our 41 bluebird boxes can be seen across the 93-acre campus and are checked weekly by teams of residents who ensure nests are secure and predators are kept at bay.
Whether in your chair by the window, at the computer watching a live bird cam, out on one of the many Otterbein Granville trails, or enjoying a moment on a sunny bench near your cottage or apartment, let yourself relax and enjoy knowing you are improving your health and wellbeing.
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Grab some binoculars or a camera for an outside stroll. A smartphone app can even help you identify birds by their song as well as by their appearance. Invite a friend to walk with you and share the adventure.
There is much to learn, explore, and enhance your experience here at Otterbein Granville.
Ready to Learn More About Otterbein Granville?
Our village-style life plan community offers private senior living residences, including apartments, cottages, and villas. We pride ourselves on being a resident-driven community where residents create and facilitate their own activity programming and special events.
We are located in a park-like setting with woods and meadows, where over half of our acreage is open land. You’ll appreciate the freedom, friendships, and life-enriching opportunities on our campus.