6 Reasons Why Birdwatching Should Be Your New Hobby

Posted on

One of the most relaxing and rewarding activities that nearly anyone can do is birdwatching. Vancouver Island especially is a paradise for birds, with hundreds of species making it their permanent or transient home. This is due to the mild climate and our geography offering them a huge diversity of habitats, from dense old growth cedar and douglas fir trees to rocky and sandy shorelines to tidal mud flats to inland rocky hilltops and Garry oak meadows. Birdwatching is a great hobby to get involved with, and we’ll explore why in this blog.

1. Be with Nature

Being outdoors gives you a chance to breathe fresh air, get moving, and soak up Vitamin D (but make sure you are SPF protected!). This all aids in our wellbeing, as nature helps reduce stress and anger, plus has been shown to have tangible health benefits such as reducing the production of stress hormones, muscle tension, and even lowering blood pressure. Birdwatching provides the perfect excuse to get outside with a purpose and connect with the environment, and enjoy the serenity of nature.

2. Stay Physically Active

While birdwatching doesn’t have to be a very physical activity, you can just do it from your backyard or go drive to a scenic spot and sit and watch the birds go by, it can also be a way to do gentle exercise out in nature. Many parks which are popular birdwatching spots have trails that are usually accessible and gentle to manoeuvre around. To not overexert there are also usually many benches, so an afternoon with walks interspersed with sitting breaks to watch the birds is a gentle day out, allowing you to move at your own pace and nurture your own wellbeing.

3. Stay Mentally Active

Birdwatching offers sensory stimulation and can even aid as a memory exercise. Try and match birdsong with specific species or notice the differences between male and female birds, as this can help to build connection in your brain. Birdwatching can also be reassuring to someone with cognitive impairment, as the repetitive process of looking for birds and identifying the species over a period of time can be calming and mentally stimulating.

4. Connect with Family and Friends

Although birdwatching can be a solo pursuit, it also serves as an excellent opportunity to bond with family and friends. Extend an invitation to your loved ones, whether it’s just to your garden or a scenic park, as it’s an activity that can be enjoyed regardless of age or ability. Beyond being a good conversation starter, it can also be transformed into a friendly competition to see who can spot a particular bird first or who can see the largest number of unique species, making it a fun game for all.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Birdwatching and paying close attention to nature can be meditative, providing the opportunity to spend time in a place without any external distractions and helping people zone out of their stressful thoughts and focus on the present moment. This mindful practice of noticing and being present in nature actively helps mental health, improving mood and increasing overall wellbeing.

6. Provide a Change of Scenery

It can be easy to get into the habit of remaining only at home, not doing anything out of the normal routine. Although birdwatching can be enjoyed from just a window, it is also a great way to get out and about and see a bit more of the beautiful Island. Just a short trip to a nearby park or nature reserve will provide an easy change of scenery with a purpose, which is helpful for mental stimulation.

Vancouver Island Birds to Look Out For

There are hundreds of birds that can be spotted on the Island, whether you're exploring your own backyard, strolling along the shoreline, or just at a scenic park. Birds are everywhere, and if you keep an eye for them you’re likely to spot:

  • American Coots
  • American Robins
  • American Wigeons
  • Bald Eagles
  • Black Oystercatchers
  • Black Turnstones
  • Black-Bellied Plovers
  • Chestnut-Backed Chickdees
  • Common Loons
  • Dark-Eyed Juncos
  • Double-Crested Cormorants
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Dunlins
  • Finches
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Hummingbirds
  • Mallards
  • Marsh Wrens
  • Northern Flickers
  • Northern Pintails
  • Northwestern Crows
  • Red-Tailed Hawks
  • Red-Winged Blackbirds
  • Ruddy Ducks
  • Sanderlings
  • Song Sparrows
  • Spotted Towhees
  • Steller's Jays
  • Surfbirds
  • Warblers

Birdwatching is a hobby that offers a multitude of benefits, and Vancouver Island with its diverse habitats and mild climate, provides the perfect backdrop for this tranquil pursuit. Beyond the sheer joy of spotting countless avian species, engaging in birdwatching connects you intimately with the natural world and helps stimulate the mind. So make birdwatching your new hobby and engage in this gentle exercise in both body and mind to help improve your overall wellbeing.