Twitching is good for the soul

Francis Sedgemore, Tuesday 18 December 2012 at 22:08 UTC

Starling

Hitchcock fans may find them utterly terrifying, but birds could have a positive effect on human wellbeing. So says ecologist Natalie Clark from Reading University, who is leading a study into the links between avian wildlife and human happiness.

“Most of us say we enjoy seeing wild birds in our local environments every day, be that the friendly robin visiting our garden each Christmas or ducks swimming in the local pond. But we have little idea of how much we value their presence and how they’re contributing to our overall well-being.”

Declining populations of popular bird species have been noted, and this is of interest to the Reading researchers. I have noticed a significant decline in the number of starlings, and that gets me down, so enchanting are their murmurations.

The next time you mock anoracky twitchers with their thousand quid binoculars and telescopes, remember that their fancy may be doing them measurable emotional good. What’s yours?