The beautiful magazine Birds and Blooms featured an article this month about why bird watching is good for your health. Authors Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman share how they have seen numerous times how birding has helped people with cancer, depression, low self esteem, and other serious conditions. Birding is not a magic bullet but it does seem to accomplish things that modern medicine can’t.The Kaufmans call it bird-watching for the heart and soul. Here are some of the reasons they believe birding is good for you.

1. It’s easy. Life can be complex and filled with stress. Birding offers a way to get us outside, concentrating on looking for birds and enjoying the fresh air. After this relaxation we can come back refreshed and ready to handy daily tasks again.

2. It’s a challenge. Birding is an antidote to boredom because you can make it as challenging as you want. It builds up your awareness and powers of observation. Identifying bird species and what they are doing stretches your imagination and gives you more mental energy for everything else in your life.

3. It builds confidence. Confidence of children are built by birding experiences and makes kids eager to share their experiences about birds with others. Birding can turn shy kids and adults into ambassadors for nature and make them more confident in other areas of their lives.

4. It keeps us from becoming overconfident. People that have studied birds for years can still learn new things about them. Being able to say "I don’t know" encourages openmindedness.

5. It’s predictable. Life can be unsettling when we don’t know what to expect. Having something predictable in our lives can be very comforting, such as the cycles of bird behavior and migration. Different birds have different schedules they follow every year, and observing these patterns helps keep us grounded.

6. It’s unpredictable. Birding is full of surprises. Sometimes migratory birds wander far from their usual paths, giving us great surprises if they show up at our feeding stations. Most times that doesn’t happen, but the possibility is there, which adds excitement to our bird watching activities.

7. Birds are beautiful. Birds are some of the world’s loveliest creatures and lead us on explorations around the world and to amazing discoveries in our own backyards. They are gorgeous reminders of the gifts the natural world has to offer those who are aware and looking.