Bird Diversity Improves the Well-Being of City Residents

  • Marcus HedblomEmail author
  • Igor Knez
  • Bengt Gunnarsson


Humans are increasingly becoming urbanized. Because a number of bird species readily live in urban areas and birds are relatively easily observed, birds are becoming the largest everyday encounter with wild fauna people will have, globally. Despite, few studies have been made on how visual (or acoustic) bird encounter affects humans. The few existing studies show that birds provide humans with increased self-evaluated well-being when seeing and hearing them. These values provided by birds can be recognized as a cultural ecosystems service.

Here we review extant literature to consider why certain species fascinate humans more than others, and some can increase well-being and provide ecosystem services, while others offer disservices through unappealing characteristics. We particularly highlight indications of links between species diversity and well-being. Finally, we discuss possible reasons for variations in our responses to birds and birdsong associated with age, gender, childhood, contact with nature, and the biophilia theory.

If interaction with birds truly increases quality of life, then this value should be considered in the planning of sustainable cities. Both conservation and proper management of existing urban green areas are needed to increase possibilities to encounter many bird species.


Biodiversity Green space Passerines Songbirds Urban soundscape Urban woodland 



We would like to thank Debora Arlt and Matthew Hiron from the Department of Ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences for their valuable comments regarding the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest Resource ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Social Work and PsychologyUniversity of GävleGävleSweden
  4. 4.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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