SAN DIEGO: Springtime is here. As songbirds migrate north the joyful singing of birds stimulates our senses. More than just lovely to hear, their melodies have a positive impact on our health. And it is an exceptional feat. The Northern Wheatear, which weighs less than an ounce, travels 9,000 miles as the season’s change, flying from Africa during winter, back to its warm weather home in the Arctic.
Gracing humanity with their melodious symphonic sounds, North American songbirds fly from their winter homes, fueled by the need to find food, willing mates, and ideal nesting places for female birds to lay their eggs and tend to offspring.
According to Wikipedia, there are approximately 4,000 species of songbirds worldwide, with evidence suggesting they evolved over 50 million years ago.
Songbirds in North America
Subsequently, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says there are approximately 650 species of songbirds migrating through North America. There are a variety of Warblers, Flycatchers, Buntings, Swallows, Doves, Vireos, Orioles, Finches, Larks, and hundreds of species of songbird provide their euphonious message that spring’s promise of new life has arrived.
In a 2013 study, “Frontiers of Evolutionary Neuroscience,” co-authored by Emory undergraduate Sarah Earp:
“Both birdsong and music elicit responses not only in brain regions associated directly with reward but also in the interconnected regions that are thought to regulate emotion.”
Urban stress on Songbirds
Consequently, growing urbanization brings increased levels of noise-related stress into everyday bird life. Unfortunately, the human-created noise pollution must be deafening. It is impossible to deny the negative impact noise-related stress has on emotional and physical well-being.
Some common forms of negative environmental, noise-related health difficulties which might occur include a weakened immune system, a compromised digestive system, lowering development of reading and verbal skills, increased emotional rage which may lead to crime, and other negative impacts, according to Hiking Research.
For birds who have landed in the same field for generations, migration patterns are forced to change by growing cityscapes. Imagine the stress of migrating back to find a highrise and parking lot instead of a blossoming oasis?
Songbirds release human stress
Experiencing the positive benefits of melodious birdsong can help to reduce the experience of everyday environmental stress. Birds sing for a variety of serving reasons, such as expressing territorialism, sexual desire, dominance, safety, and alarm, or newly discovered food sources.
The resultant positive sound therapy provides health benefits to those humans who are willing to listen.
Birdsong has inspired gifted musical composers to write symphonic masterpieces
Emma Baker in the Top 12 Classical Music Inspired by Nature, says the following are among the most revered:
-Ludwig Von Beethoven-Symphony No. 6, Pastoral. Beethoven pays orchestral homage to the abundant birdsong in his beloved Vienna countryside.
-Ralph Vaughan Williams-The Lark Ascending. Vaughan Williams devoted a single-movement violin concerto the English Skylark.
-Antonio Vivaldi-The Four Seasons. Vivaldi’s famously popular violin concerto which depicts the four seasons of the year showcases spring songbirds in his concerto, Spring.
As a result of their songs, North American songbirds raise the spirit, lighten the heart, and help create positive health and emotional well-being. Hence their predictable presence serves as a reminder that human beings are connected to the natural world around them.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!