Bird-watching is one of the most relaxing and rewarding pastimes that practically anyone can do. For folks in their golden years, it comes with extra benefits because it gently keeps the mind active and alert while encouraging a focus on the beauty of nature.

As human beings, being out in nature is one of the healthiest things we can do. Not only does it reduce stress and anger, but it increases emotional well-being and has tangible health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Read on to find out the top seven benefits of bird-watching for older adults, as well as some hints about the birds you’re most likely to come across in Media, PA.

1. Get Outdoors

activities for seniors - a senior holding a telescope birdwatchingIt’s called the great outdoors for good reason. Getting outside gives you a chance to breathe fresh air deep into your lungs, lets you bathe in the sun’s rays and soak up vitamin D, and provides a chance for movement. Oxygen, vitamin D, and movement are all essential components that contribute to a person’s overall wellness, and bird-watching provides the perfect excuse to get outside.

2. Keep Fit

It’s only in the last couple hundred years that humans have been sedentary. Our bodies evolved over millions of years of hunting, gathering, and exploring. As such, we’re hardwired to move, and the more we move, the healthier our bodies are. That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon every week, but a few bird-watching sessions will get the blood pumping throughout your body and keep you fit and healthy.

3. Do It From Anywhere

Luckily, you don’t have to be outdoors to be a keen bird-watcher. If you’re bedbound for any reason, you can still take part in this joyous pastime and enjoy the benefits of nature. Ask a caregiver to position your bed facing the window and add a bird feeder to a tree in your view. Voila! You’ll be able to watch the little guys flock to your window and frolic around.

4. Enhance Cognition

two senior citizensBird-watching offers sensory stimulation and works as a memory exercise. Matching birdsong to a specific species, spotting minor differences between male and female birds and noticing patterns in behavior all serve to keep your mind agile. What’s more, the sights and sounds can evoke memories and associations from your past that you might have forgotten. 

5. Relieve Negative Emotions

Watching birds and paying close attention to nature is meditative. Science shows that focusing on nature can help people zone out from stressful or anxiety-inducing thoughts and improve neurological function.

If you’ve ever been feeling bad, then got distracted by the stunning sight of a beautiful sunset and felt those negative feelings dissolve immediately, you’ve experienced the power nature has to help us overcome negative feelings.

6. Practice Mindfulness

Bird-watching is a mindful practice. Mindfulness is when we pay close attention to the smallest details in life and how they impact us emotionally. In particular, being mindful of and grateful for all the beauty in nature can actively improve mood and fight depression and anxiety. By zeroing in on the delicate sound of birdsong or the elegance of a blue jay’s markings, you’re giving your brain a boost. 

7. Connect With Friends and Family

Bird-watching for older adultsWhile bird-watching is an excellent activity to do alone, it’s also a wonderful way to connect with loved ones. Sharing the joy we feel when we see beauty feels amazing and provides validation. You can even add a little friendly competition to the mix to see who can spot the most unique species.

Pennsylvania Birds to Look Out For

If you’re wondering what types of birds you might find in Media, Pennsylvania, here’s a list of the most common:

  • American robin
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Blue jay
  • Song sparrow
  • American crow
  • Tufted titmouse
  • Downy woodpecker
  • American goldfinch
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • European starling
  • Gray catbird

If you’re a keen bird-watching enthusiast, here’s a full list of all the birds you can find in Pennsylvania.

Bird-Watching Opportunities in Media

Just 15 minutes away from our retirement community is the scenic John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Here, Media residents and those from surrounding communities can step away from the city and observe the wildlife that inhabits the refuge. John Heinz serves as a perfect place to bird-watch and is a regular stop for migrating birds looking to find food in the plentiful vegetation of the grounds. With over 90 species of nesting birds, this wildlife refuge is the perfect place for Riddle Village bird enthusiasts to spend a morning or afternoon outdoors!

Bird-watching is one of the many activities older adults can take part in on the grounds at Riddle Village and in the greater local area. Indoors, we’ve got four restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a beauty salon, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Outdoors, there’s an outdoor patio, koi pond, putting green, shuffle ball court, and bocce ball court. With all this and so much more to keep you entertained, you can truly make retirement the best time of your life.