A nuthatch takes a sunflower seed from your bird feeder. You watch as it flies to a nearby branch, and, using its beak, hammers the seed open. (Its name, “nuthatch,” is derived from nut hack or nut hatchet because of this behavior.)
You watch it repeat this action over and over, one seed at a time. What is your reaction? Does this bring a smile to your face? Do you feel more at ease?
Those few moments spent watching the nuthatch are valuable. Maybe you learned something new about how a nuthatch feeds, or maybe it simply brought a moment of calmness and satisfaction. Whatever your response, you benefitted from observing that small part of nature.
There are many benefits to watching wildlife. For most of us, the direct benefit is a very personal one: the satisfaction of seeing or interacting with the natural world. It can be very relaxing and help you release some of the pressure from daily life. It also can be very exciting.
Perhaps you are seeing a species of bird that is new to you, be it a new species for your yard or a rarity from another part of the country. Or, maybe you have just seen a whale raise its back and tail high above the ocean’s surface while visiting the coast. Whatever your experience, there is some level of inner satisfaction that is difficult to quantify.
Some benefits of wildlife watching are more tangible. Many people keep records of what they see throughout the year and others participate in one or more counts or surveys, submitting data by mail or online.
This valuable data, including the large quantity collected by non-professionals, can be used to further our understanding of birds, the local environment and the state of the world as a whole.
Perhaps you will choose to make a trip to a local park or nature center, such as the Cascades Raptor Center in south Eugene, or visit one of the many county, state or national parks or forests.
Maybe it’s enough to simply enjoy that nuthatch consuming seeds. Whatever you choose, you will be doing something good for yourself. And by sharing and encouraging others, you will be doing something good for society.
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