Recent studies have shown petting cats and dogs can be helpful for general wellbeing.
Now, academics at King's College London have reported that seeing or hearing birds also has long-lasting mental health benefits.
For the study, researchers used the smartphone application Urban Mind to collect people's real-time reports of mental wellbeing alongside their reports of experiencing birdsong.
Accordingly, they found that the benefits may last up to eight hours and could potentially aid those with mental health conditions such as depression.
"There is growing evidence on the mental health benefits of being around nature and we intuitively think that the presence of birdsong and birds would help lift our mood. However, there is little research that has actually investigated the impact of birds on mental health in real-time and in a real environment," said lead author Ryan Hammoud. "By using the Urban Mind app, we have for the first time showed the direct link between seeing or hearing birds and positive mood. We hope this evidence can demonstrate the importance of protecting and providing environments to encourage birds, not only for biodiversity but for our mental health."
Researchers showed that the links between birds and mental wellbeing were not explained by co-occurring environmental factors such as the presence of trees, plants, or waterways.
Looking to the future, research partner and landscape architect Jo Gibbons is excited about the ways the findings could impact city planning.
"It captures intriguing evidence that a biodiverse environment is restorative in terms of mental wellbeing. That the sensual stimulation of birdsong, part of those daily 'doses' of nature, is precious and time-lasting," she added.
Full study results have been published in Scientific Reports.