One way to lose a popularity contest is to mention to friends that you like birdwatching. Most people look at you as if you just told a bad joke. The word “dorky” is also a familiar response. Ok, maybe you’re beyond the stage in life where popularity isn’t a quality you’re striving for. That would be me. The funny thing is that while your friends are sitting in a bar somewhere watching a football game, you’re out in nature learning and enjoying something that doesn’t cost money and seldom leads to a hangover.

There’s a guy named Jon Young who has actually learned how to decipher bird language. He can tell, just by the sounds of birds, if it’s a dog, a cat or a raccoon that’s sneaking through the bushes. “What the robin knows” is one of my favorite books, it’s amazing and helped me become  more aware in nature. Obviously this took a lot of time and most of us don’t have that luxury. But you can still discover a hidden world that’s really healthy and fun and tends to be pretty addictive. You don’t need any expensive equipment, just a decent pair of binoculars and an open mind.

The great thing about birdwatching is that you can start in your own backyard. Find a place where you can go and sit. The “sit spot” is one of my favorite relaxation techniques and you’ll understand after you try it. By visiting this spot regularly and being still and quiet, you’ll be amazed at what you see. After awhile, the birds around you go about their normal activities because they no longer see you as a threat. Take note of what you see. After awhile, you’ll see familiar birds, notice their behaviors, and if you’re really observant, you’ll know their warning calls. See what happens when the neighbor’s cat jumps over the fence.

If you venture outside your backyard, you’ll quickly discover that birdwatching has some real health benefits. You get a healthy dose of vitamin C, you get exercise and you’ll venture further and further out there as you get more hooked. The greatest benefit of birdwatching is the impact on your emotional state. It really does make you happy!

You’ll soon discover that your outings now have more of a focus and that’s good food for the brain. There’s a big difference between just going for a stroll and heading out on an adventure. As you start seeing more birds, you’ll start to get more curious.

“What’s that noise out there?” It’s fun to discover new things and if you have kids, just watch at how they respond to the idea of going out to discover something new. Birdwatching also makes you look more closely at everything around you. You’ll soon see that you start noticing more of everything. When we tune our senses into the frequency of nature, we end up on another wavelength—one that is foreign to our own language. It just deepens as you grow more aware. You’ll find yourself stalking up on all kinds of critters. You’ll sharpen your sense of sight, sound and touch. It becomes fun and challenging to see how close you can get before the bird you’re stalking flies away.

All of a sudden, you’ll realize that all those little things that clutter up your mind are gone, or at least set aside for a bit. The general consensus amongst people who look more deeply at nature is that it improves every aspect of their lives and gives them a new respect for nature. Think about the impact it can have on the future of our natural resources. It’s a good thing! 

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