Neil is an author, scientist, and ornithologist based in Canberra. Each week, he rounds up some of the most recent news, stories, and insights on all things birds through this weekly bird wrap. This week, Neil talks about:
– A bird species making waves and winning a prestigious title in New Zealand.
– How being around birds and listening to their sounds can do wonders for our mental health.
– A phenomenal, record-breaking story of bird migration.
The Rockwren wins a competition in New Zealand as the most popular endangered bird specie
The Rockwren is a small, rare, critically endangered species of bird that can be found throughout rocky areas all over New Zealand. Just recently, around 50,000 New Zealanders voted for the Rockwren as the “bird of the year” in the whole country. This is an annual contest held in New Zealand.
And although rumors of corruption over the voting results have been prevalent in the past years, they set up a fair preferential voting system for some of the lesser-known birds to be noticed. The Rockwren, also known as the alpine Wren was declared the bird of the year for 2022, beating some of the more popular bird species whose populations have been threatened, such as the kororā penguins.
How birdwatching benefits and improves mental health
A group of researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College in London has recently released some good news for birdwatchers everywhere. As it turns out, being outdoors while hearing bird sounds around and above people can do wonders for our mental health.
In this controlled study, they trailed people with mental health issues like anxiety and depression from different parts of the world, and observed changes in their mental health and behavior after consistently spending time outdoors, listening to the sounds of nature. They found that being around actual birds and hearing bird sounds is associated with an improvement in mental stability and wellness that can last up to eight hours. Since we only have 24 hours in a day, making this a daily habit can truly improve the lives of those struggling with mental issues.
The Godwit’s record-breaking migration
Godwits are large wading birds found in many regions of the world, and they are well-known for their impressive skill to fly long distances. However, their feet make it difficult for them to take off from water, as they need more space than smaller bird species to build up enough momentum. This means that godwits will often migrate farther distances over land rather than taking a shorter route across water.
Just recently, a five month old Godwit was able to migrate to the other side of the world. 13,500 kilometres to be exact, from Alaska and across the Pacific. Although they typically land in New Zealand, this specific baby bird landed in Tasmania instead in a record-breaking time of only 11 days without feeding or landing. Truly an incredible migration story that showcases some extraordinary traits of this specific bird.
The Best Birdwatching Tours and Safaris in Australia | Neil Hermes: Author, Ornithologist, and Tour Guide
A scientist by background, and a keen author, researcher, tour guide, and ornithologist, Neil traveled to Australia and other parts of the world for decades. His expeditions are fuelled by his unwavering passion for birds, publishing his findings, planning birdwatching safaris, and participating in bird conservation efforts along the way. His passion for both birds and tourism gave him the much needed push to start Neil Hermes Safaris, touring aspiring birdwatchers and enthusiasts around Canberra, and all over Australia.