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Study: Birdwatching Can Lift Us To Happiness During Pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Happiness has been fleeting for many people during the pandemic, but a study out of Germany suggested the birds in our own neighborhoods can bring us joy.

Our friends at the Tracy Aviary in Liberty Park helped KSL explore that connection between birds and happiness.

“This is my favorite place in the whole aviary. This is the Treasures of the Rainforest building,” said Kylie Jones-Greenwood, Tracy Aviary community and outreach programs coordinator.

When you walk into the Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit at the Tracy Aviary, you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of birds from around the world.

“This place makes me the happiest because all of these birds are just living life to the fullest. As you can hear around us, everyone is busy, everyone knows what to do,” said Jones-Greenwood.

She shares that happiness with visitors every day. When she’s around birds, she said her mood comes alive.

“All of my senses are engaged when I’m in here from feeling the humidity to seeing the birds, to listening to them call,” said Jones-Greenwood.

According to a new study by German researchers, birdwatching, and particularly identifying new species, lightened people’s moods and provided as much satisfaction as getting a $150/month raise. The research specifically showed that living and birdwatching in areas with at least 14 varieties of birds can improve human well-being.

Jones-Greenwood was not surprised by the findings.

“In here we have way more than 14 species of birds. So, just coming in here for a little bit on my break from work really fills my cup and gets me ready for the next part of the day,” she said.

“Tracy Aviary is about fostering a kind of happiness and joy for birds. But, also making sure that we are making conservation efforts to protect them,” said Frances Ngo, Tracy Aviary conservation outreach biologist.

Without that conservation work, bird populations struggle, she said.

“They are definitely affected by things like climate change or habitat loss. So, conservation efforts are really important to help birds wherever we can,” Ngo said.

Which ties back to happiness among birdwatchers.

“The more birds they see, the happier they are,” she said. “So, it’s really important to have habitats that foster that biodiversity of birds for both the sake of birds and for people’s happiness and well-being.”

Researchers found the happiest people experience numerous different bird species in their daily lives. That did not surprise the people who work at the aviary.

Step outside or take a walk, look up and listen to the calls and chirps of our feathered friends.

You can visit the Tracy Aviary which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a special hour from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for seniors and those who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

Everyone is masking and social distancing. You can find more details online here.

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