No matter where we live — even if it’s a tiny island in the middle of the ocean — birds live there, too.
Whether you’re camped up high on the top of a peak or on the sunny shores of a beach, if you pause and look up, you’ll likely see birds flying. From squawking gulls swooping for fish to the sweeping wings of a falcon effortlessly gliding, there’s something hypnotic about watching birds in the skies above us.
It’s surprising just how much birds can captivate us, given their often small size and unobtrusive presence. There are perhaps few things more magical than watching them fly in unison. Each one is an individual, acting together as a whole. They’ll turn and shift paths and widen and change shape — all at a moment’s notice.
Those who study birds tell us that flocks of birds aren’t following a leader or even the bird next to them. Instead, each bird anticipates changes in the movement of other birds, allowing them to move together like a wave, deeply in touch with the group. They seem to move instinctively, with an implicit sense of trust between each other, effortlessly floating in sync — a reminder that we can’t always predict and plan, and instead of the value of staying in tune with the present moment.
Even apart from watching birds, researchers have found that simply listening to birdsong can have a genuine impact on our wellbeing. Hearing birdsong can help to soothe us and reduce stress. Hit play on some sounds of birdsong in the background as you go about your day, or take in the birdsong-inspired sounds of El Buho, with each song based off the birdsong of a different species of Amazonian bird.
The fact that birds are everywhere means that we don’t have to get into the wilderness to tap into nature. Even in the middle of a city, there’s an entire universe of birds around us. In Vancouver, our home, the end of the day is marked with thousands of crows flying ahead back to their home further east to roost, every night. By tuning into this ritual, it can become yours, too. Allow the movement or sounds of birds to signal time to take a pause — whether that’s slowing down for the day or finding a moment for a deep breath.
Paying attention to the lives of birds is to see the world from an entirely different perspective — one that gets us outside of our own heads and into the cycles of nature around us. Getting in touch with their patterns — whether it’s building nests in the spring or leaving to migrate each winter — inevitably helps connect us the natural world. There’s an abundance of life and wildness all around us, we simply have to notice it.
Take a pause where you are and look out the window, and glance up to the sky. What do you notice?