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The Beginners Guide to Backyard Birding: Feed the Birds and Feed your Mind, Body, and Soul

An Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) clings to a flower stalk.
Indigo Bunting
A female Cardinal   (Cardinalis cardinalis) perches on a dead log.
Lady Cardinal

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When you hear the word nature, what do you think? Do you think of tree-covered snowcapped mountains or is it the warm, rolling waves of the ocean? I bet not one of you said your backyard! We never really think of our backyard as being a part of nature. My goal is to change that. Nature has so much to offer. We just need to stop, look, and listen… even in our backyard.

In my previous post, we looked at the history of birdwatching. I promise you we will get into the nitty-gritty of backyard birding, but I think it's important that you know what bird watching can do for you mentally and physically. Here are three health benefits of Backyard birding.

1. Backyard Birding Promotes Physical Exercise. You’re going to get a workout. Mowing the yard, trimming the bushes, or digging holes to stick those native flowers and the list goes on and on. Trust me, you’ll have sore muscles that you didn’t even know you had.

2. Backyard Birding Relieves Stress and Anxiety. All of us feel the pressures of life from time to time. Having your own little “quiet place” will help you relax. The most basic things in nature like fresh air and sunshine can have a significant effect on lowering your level of stress. To learn more about the effects of nature on your mental health, check out my blog post “Do You Suffer from Nature-Deficit Disorder?”.

3. Simply put, Backyard Birding and Nature make you happy. Nature has a way of removing distractions and commanding our deepest attention. Backyard birding can be exciting. You never know what you will see next and what new feathered friend you might discover that day. That feeling of anticipation can help to restore your optimism and self-esteem leaving you feeling exhilarated.

A European Starling (Stumus vulgaris) looks out over a feeder.
Texas Starling

Backyard Birding is not just for adults. It’s a great way to teach the kiddos about nature and to respect wildlife. On top of appreciating nature, backyard birding also teaches kids about taking responsibility for their environment. A great way to get your kids involved is to put them in charge of the bird feeder. Help them make their seed mixtures, suet, or hummingbird nectar. Birding is also a great way to promote listening skills. Teach your kids to identify birds from their unique songs. Make a game out of it and see how quickly they rack up the wins. There’s no greater responsibility or rewarding feeling than being able to teach a kid about nature and what better place to do this than your own backyard? For more outdoor activities to do with kids, just click here.

There is still one very important factor we need to talk about. It’s the cornerstone of Backyard birding. It has to be fun. I won’t lie to you. It’s hard work to convert any backyard into a birding sanctuary. I want you to enjoy the process and the transformation is worth all your sweat and tears. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the results.

Over the last three or four years, I have transformed my backyard from a barren mudhole into a little bird oasis in a big city. Throughout this process, I have learned a lot more than just what seed to use or how to make a fountain. By inviting nature into my everyday life, I’ve come to realize that nature gives me more than I can ever give back. Backyard birding can be so much more than just feeding birds. If you just stop, look, and listen, you just might be amazed at what you can learn from the nature that flourishes right in your own backyard.

A male Northern Cardinal  (Cardinalis cardinalis) stand alert on a small twig.
Texas Cardinal

If this is your first time visiting my website or reading one of my blog posts, welcome, and thank you for joining us. Please subscribe here so you can receive updates on the next blog posts on Backyard Birding. You will also receive occasional discounts and newsletters. Please share my blog and galleries with family and friends! Remember to follow the Nature First and Leave No Trace principles and always strive to leave places better than you found them.

Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view


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