Study to probe benefits of birdsong
Nature-lovers have long believed in the benefits of birdsong, but now researchers plan to find out if listening to the birds really is good for us.
A three-year research project by the University of Surrey, in partnership with the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust, aims to find out the psychological impact of being exposed to the sound of birdsong.
The study will look at the effects of birdsong on people's mood, attention and levels of creativity.
The research will also look at whether there is any difference between listening to birds in the natural world and hearing recordings of birdsong, as well as examining whether different types of birds singing have different effects.
Eleanor Ratcliffe, who will be conducting the research at the University of Surrey, said: "A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that we respond positively to birdsong. However, currently there is a lack of scientific research on the psychological effects of listening to birds.
"A mixture of online questionnaires, laboratory work and field studies at National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust sites will help us to build up a clearer picture of how and why birdsong can be of psychological benefit."
National Trust ecologist Peter Brash suggested birdsong helped people to get closer to nature - and was a sound even city dwellers could enjoy.
"As a lifelong birder, I've always had birdsong as a natural soundtrack to my life and believe it's good for the mind and soul.
"Birdsong gets us closer to nature and links people to places and memories in a way that few other sounds can."
Andrew Jamieson, countryside services manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: "We know that Surrey Wildlife Trust members and visitors to our nature reserves get so much from experiencing wildlife at first hand. Hearing birdsong is a big part of that - just the sound of a skylark on a spring day can really lift the spirits."