This article was written by Science contributor Dominic LeRose.
The next time you step outside, chances are you’ll come across a bird of some kind. Whether they’re singing in the distance, flying up above or hopping around on the ground, birds are a vivid expression of life that have instilled a deep sense of wonder in mankind for centuries.
As an avid birdwatcher, I cannot explain how fascinating birds become once you study them for as long as I have. Ever since I was a young child I have bird-watched. There’s no greater feeling than seeing a unique species of bird after searching for it for days. Ranging from the unique Andean cock-of-the-rock of South America, the flightless penguins of Antarctica or the spectacular harlequin duck, birds come in many shapes and sizes and are a joy to observe.
Birds bring out a sense of peace in us. The graceful nature of these creatures can calm the senses under any circumstances. Simply listening to the sweet songs of birds filling the air is a natural music that rivals anything Beethoven orchestrated. The various colors and shapes of these birds are some of the most beautiful sights in all the natural world, and the rapid speed of a hummingbird or spectrally shaped beak of a toucan species are an evolutionary marvel.
The diverse behavior of birds around the world represents the rich complexities of nature. Observing birds is a powerful tool that allows us to experience a different form of life, one outside of our modern social world and one rooted in nature. Birds demonstrate a constant struggle of survival, seeking to produce offspring so as to contribute to the cycle of life.
Being able to connect with the natural world on a spiritual level is an intoxicating phenomenon that has given millions of people passion for centuries. The easiest way to do so in my view is to begin to pay more attention to the birds around you. Simply trying to better understand these creatures can easily lead to a deep fascination. Not only do these avian creatures exert their stunning ability of the art of flight, but they interact with each other and their environment in stunning ways that can connect us with something greater than ourselves.
You don’t have to live in a tropical rainforest to witness remarkable birds. Every spring, several breathtakingly beautiful birds such as the scarlet tanager, prothonotary warbler, indigo bunting and eastern meadowlark return to the Midwest to breed. The next time you have a day off, venture out to the nearest natural land near you and chances are you’ll run into a bird species you haven’t seen before. It just might give you a deeper appreciation for life and nature.