As people become less mobile with age, finding activities that are interesting can be a real challenge. To keep boredom from setting in, many seniors start getting interested in birdwatching as a hobby. After all, birds can be found practically everywhere in the world, ranging in size from hummingbirds that are just a few inches long from beak to tail, to sandhill cranes that can almost look you in the eye if you’re standing next to one,
Plus, birds are highly entertaining because they can be found in an amazing variety of dazzling colors, and each species has a unique song. For seniors, birdwatching is the perfect hobby because you can match your participation with your level of mobility. In other words, if you want to drive to a nearby park known for its variety of birds and take a hike along well-known birding trails, you can… but you don’t have to. For seniors who are less mobile, you can set up a bird feeder outside a window or within view of a back patio and still enjoy the show!
It’s no wonder that, according to some surveys, up to 60 million Americans enjoy birdwatching as an activity. With the resources available in books and online, identifying bird species by sight and by their song can be a stimulating activity that can help keep the mind sharp and focused.
Bird-watching encourages seniors to go outside
For many seniors, birdwatching offers a rare opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. In most areas, especially in Florida, there are quite a few birdwatching trails at local, state, and national parks where you can meander at a leisurely pace and look for birds flying among the trees and shrubs. Even if you’re confined to a wheelchair or simply can’t walk on unpaved trails, there are opportunities for some great birdwatching.
Another option is to set up an area that you can view from a back porch or patio, or from a window, specifically for attracting birds. Certain flowers attract specific types of birds, so you can plant those around your garden. Check online for resources about the types of plants you should use in your area. As a bonus, many of the same flowers and plants are also butterfly magnets, which adds another colorful element to the experience. You can also set up bird feeders and even a birdbath, and tending to them is a great way to get a little exercise.
One of the best ways that birdwatching can benefit people is that it is a relaxing activity. When you are looking for different species of birds and listening for their calls, it promotes mindfulness by helping you stay in the moment. It’s difficult to obsess over things that are worrying you when you’re out in nature paying attention to the wildlife. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Exeter found that there is a correlation seeing a large number of birds and reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
One of the best things about bird watching as a hobby is that it is easy and inexpensive to get started. All you really need is a comfortable place outdoors to sit and observe and there’s no cost to get started at all. As you get more interested in it, a pair of binoculars and an inexpensive birdwatching field guide will add to the experience. From there, it’s up to you whether you want to travel to interesting birdwatching destinations, or create your own little birdwatching paradise in your own backyard.