This article often describes the link between pet ownership and enhanced wellbeing in pet owners and perhaps now, more than ever, we need reasons to be cheerful.
Self-isolation at home is definitely less lonely and more bearable with a cat, dog or rabbit for company, and if you don’t have a pet you should make the most of the natural environment around you to enhance your wellbeing. Wild birds have been scientifically proven to improve mental health in people.
A recent study by academics, led by a team from Exeter University, found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of wild birds people could see in the afternoon.
Socio-economic and demographic factors did not influence the overall findings, nor did the particular species of bird observed, and it seems that seeing any type of bird makes people feel relaxed and closer to nature.
This follows research which shows bird song can help people recover from the mental fatigue caused by daily life or by world events.
So maybe lift your spirits by investing in a bird feeder to put either in your garden or to stick on to a window, somewhere safely away from any predatory cats - the RSPB’s website (www.rspb.org.uk) has several designs to choose from. Spring is a particularly wonderful time for observing and listening to wild birds, as they search for mates and start breeding. There are also new arrivals to watch out for, such as house martins who have migrated all the way from Africa.
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) runs a ’citizen science’ bird watching programme, and encourages people to record the birds they see in their gardens every week. The information is then analysed by researchers and helps the Trust to understand bird numbers and behaviours. Please see the BTO’s website (www.bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw) for more details.
And you can listen to a huge variety of bird song on BBC Radio 4’s ’Tweet of the Day’ which is broadcast every weekday morning at 5.58am with presenters including David Attenborough, Chris Packham and Bill Oddie; or use the BBC’s website to listen to the hundreds of recorded ’Tweets’.
Unfortunately, not all birds are a welcome addition to our daily life, and the poor cockerel is high on the list of unwanted birds largely due to the noise it makes crowing, particularly in the early morning.
The society receives frequent calls either from cockerel owners who wish to rehome their birds, or from members of the public who are concerned about the welfare of feral or abandoned cockerels.
The vast majority of these have been ’dumped’ by owners who can’t cope with them and who think they are giving the birds a chance of survival living out in the wild.
The problem stems from irresponsible or ill-informed breeding, and the fact that chicken ownership is very popular. Well-meaning chicken owners sometimes do not think of the consequences when they allow their hens’ eggs to develop into chicks, given that roughly 50% will be male chicks.
This is where the cockerel problem starts. And it’s worth remembering that hens can lay eggs without the need for cockerels!