There’s been many a meandering speculation into the enlightening effects of birdsong throughout the history of romantic poetry. True, it was Aldous Huxley who once said ‘remove birds from poetry, and we would have to cast aside half of the English canon’.
Huxley famously wrote ‘Island’, a story of a utopia where inhabitants lived in pure enlightened bliss. In this state of Nirvana, the birds never sang, but instead mimicked the word ‘attention’ in order to remind people to stop and take in the world around them. By connecting with the world, people could be at peace with life.
Now scientists are considering whether there is an element of fact in Huxley’s famous imaginings.
The study, supported by the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust, will involve experiments testing the impact of birdsong on participants’ ability to relax, concentrate and think creatively.
According to researcher Eleanor Ratcliffe: “A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that we respond positively to birdsong. However, currently there is a lack of scientific research on the psychological effects of listening to birds”.
Peter Brash of the National Trust believes that birdsong is ‘good for the mind and soul’, that it helps to bring us closer to nature and is more effective at evoking happy memories than any other sound.
Even without scientific evidence, it is clear that being outside can help restore mental health and make us feel better.
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