Bird Therapy

By Joe Harkness

book cover

A personal, passionate and practical guide to the mental health benefits of bird watching.

Publication date: June 2019
Choose book format:

Unbound Exclusives

About the book

I broke down in 2013 and it nearly broke me. Shaking and hateful, I tried the things the doctor said I should. Yes - medication helped. Counselling was enlightening and mindfulness definitely grounded me. Nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. First it was a Buzzard, regally soaring over a stubble-field and filling me with hope and joy. Then it was a Dunnock – parading on the lawn in front of me – how had I never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter, took me one step closer to accepting who I am.

Bird Therapy is my passion. It’s a shared sounding board and my natural escape clause. I came to realise that other people felt the wonder of our wild birds too – people who were willing to share their darkest moments and joyous observations with me. Come with me - let’s go to the heath and inhale coconut-scented gorse as a Woodlark flutes and tumbles above us. Join me in the darkened bird hide as dusk closes in, its walls releasing warmed-wooden air - while a flock of Green Sandpipers patter and probe just in front of us. You certainly don't have to be a skilled birdwatcher to enjoy this book - I definitely wasn't when I experienced Bird Therapy. Even if you are, I hope, too, that it will help you discover new rewards in your hobby.

You will see quotes, anecdotes and ideas. There will be dark moments and then others filled with light - and birds. You will be introduced to existing research and read profound words people have shared with me. We will walk down to the frozen lake at my patch in winter and then out onto the heath on a June evening – ethereal Nightjars swirling around our heads in the half-light. Most importantly, I hope that you will recognise how birdwatching has helped me and how it could possibly help you. To advocate this, each chapter ends with some practical tips to take away and apply to your own birdwatching and nature experiences. It’s as much about how birdwatching can help you as how it’s helped me.

More information