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So Listen: The benefits of bird-watching

Sometimes we need a way to unplug.

Whether it’s going for a run, practicing yoga or spending time with friends outdoors, getting a breath of fresh air can provide a nice change of pace when we get to close our browsers and log out of Twitter. Unfortunately though, unplugging and tuning it all out is not always enough. The thoughts of looming deadlines, melancholy headlines and overall craziness of the world may seep into our minds as we work out or find time with our friends.

Enter: bird-watching.

Now I know this might sound silly. Maybe you have a grandparent, or beyond boomer friend who bird-watches. It is undoubtedly a hobby for older folks. But they know what they’re doing. “Birding” is an excellent pastime, and while it can be a hard hobby to get started in, once you’re in, the joy it can bring you is insurmountable. 

I first began this hobby in August. I had some summer classes that were causing me a bit of stress, and when I wasn’t doing homework, I was working as a server. I needed something that could give me a bit of peace, and I wanted to spend more time outside. I can’t really tell you how I got the idea to start this hobby, but I ordered a pair of cheap binoculars and a field guide online and was on my way. 

If you like nature, like hiking, and feel like you need a hobby that will help you relax while also keeping you excited, birding is for you. Before I was a birder, I never fully appreciated nature and the world around me. 

Birding has also helped me learn to appreciate the little things. If you’re walking to class and you see a little tree sparrow, it might make you smile and make the walk a little nicer. If you see a northern cardinal, or a red-tailed hawk, it can make your entire day. 

When you’re out birding, it’s just you and the birds. You can contemplate things in your life, or forget all your worries and focus solely on the beauty of your surroundings. 

If you try this hobby, and find that you really like it, you might want to get a more specialized field guide to familiarize yourself with the birds around you. An Ohio specific, or Eastern United States guide are both great options. To get more familiar, follow some birding photographers on social media. This is two-fold if you want to limit social media consumption: the more birds you see, the more you’ll want to get out there and see them yourself. 

So the next time you feel bored, or stressed, take a hike at The Ridges or Wayne National Forest. Familiarize yourself with some basic birds; download Merlin Bird ID to try and ID birds as you see them (this is the best way to learn).

Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch

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