Have you noticed how your body and mind respond to the sounds of birds chirping to their little hearts’ content? If you haven’t, I suggest you try one of my favorite activities: listening to the calming sounds of birdsong.

According to this Washington Post article, just listening to birds singing brings all kinds of healing benefits, including alleviating feelings of anxiety and paranoia, reducing stress and depression, and improving mental health in general.

“Birds appear to be a specific source of these healing benefits,” the article says. “They are almost everywhere and provide a way to connect us to nature. And even if they are hidden in trees or in the underbrush, we can still revel in their songs.”

Bird songs reconnect us with nature and boost our mental well-being, with benefits that last beyond the time we spend listening to their chirps and trills, the research shows.

“The benefits persisted well beyond the bird encounter. If a participant reported seeing or hearing birds at one point, their mental well-being was higher, on average, hours later even if they did not encounter birds at the next check-in.”

Even listening to recordings of birds singing can alleviate negative emotions and boost positive feelings. Their beautiful and diverse calls touch something deep and primordial in our psyche. Can you imagine? Tweets that actually lower your blood pressure! And the more you pay attention, the better you feel.

Listening to birds singing is one of my favorite activities for practicing mindfulness in daily life. I love listening to the bird symphony playing in my backyard and courtyard each day. As long is the weather is mild, I enjoy sitting in my favorite chair in my favorite spot with my morning coffee and just listening to them sing. Sometimes I like to identify which birds are trilling using the Merlin Bird ID app. This allows you to record and list the type of birds you hear.

I’ve got dozens of screen captures of birds in my photos along with recordings of them singing in the app.

The songs of birds have inspired me to write poems, like this one:

Morning Time

by Julie Potiker

I am busy
From the outside I might not appear as such
Yet I dedicate this time to me

This precious time
When the house hums its mechanical hum, that sounds sometimes like a musical track is embedded in the low static

The birds fill my ears

The Wrens soprano 1 and soprano 2 are joined by the Spotted Towhee, whose croaking tune my ear recognizes instantly now, like turning a doorknob in my mind

The Song Sparrow is aptly named, and I’m instantly cheered that it too, is here.

There can be more and more, all included, none denied, I’m thinking as a Mourning Dove layers its low cooing into the loop. They have all the time in the world.

This quiet time
Which is anything but quiet
Is noisy in all the best ways

My mug feels warm in my cupped hands
I feel my heart beating its low slow rhythm in my chest
My back and hips are comfortably supported in my favorite chair, its cane frame and soft cushion welcoming me each morning.

Picking up a book of poems
I’m filled with love that humans arrange words for each other across time
Humans gift one another these lines
Born from precious time
Just like this

Using online tools to identify the birds you hear singing is fun, but not required to bathe in the healing benefits of bird song. The most important thing is the key to all forms of mindfulness — just be present in the moment as you listen to all the varied sounds and songs of our feathered friends.

“One recent preliminary study found that birdwatchers who paid attention to the joy they felt for each bird reported greater mental health benefits than those who merely counted the birds they saw,” the article states. The reason probably has to do with what Rick Hanson, Ph.D., bestselling author of “Hardwiring Happiness,” “Resilience,” and many other fabulous books, calls “Taking in the Good.” This is the idea we can instill new neural traits of happiness by noticing when we are feeling joy and fully absorbing it, allowing us to recall it when we need it. Listening to birds singing is a mindfulness activity you can add to your mindfulness toolbox and use to put yourself in a calmer, more peaceful state next time you are feeling stress or unrest. If you can’t get outside to hear the birds in the moment, try listening to recordings you’ve made of them with apps like Merlin Bird ID or BirdNet, or pick your favorites at sites such as bird-sounds.net.

Of course, to fully immerse yourself in the calm of nature, nothing beats walking or sitting outdoors and just listening. Whether it’s the crash of ocean surf, the flutter of wings, the buzz of bees, the splash of water over rocks or the gentle rise and fall of a blowing breeze, earth sounds pull us out of worry and rumination and remind us we are part of nature.

So pay attention to the songs and sounds of birds, and revel in the lasting sense of peace they bring!

Please share your thoughts. . .