Around the World, the Soothing Sounds of Birdsong Are Used as Therapy

The natural tunes decrease stress while possibly invigorating the mind.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

In a children’s hospital in Liverpool, England, the sweet sounds of birdsong carry along the hallways. It’s a recording of the dawn chorus from a nearby park, and the intent is to calm the anxious young patients.

This hospital is one of a number of places in Europe where birdsong recordings are used to foster an uplifting and therapeutic experience. Research does show that natural sounds can help relieve stress.

Where some noises—like TV, traffic, and random conversations—make it hard to concentrate, the songs of birds may make it easier. One expert thinks that birdsong relaxes people physically while stimulating them cognitively. The body relaxes while the mind becomes alert.

Institutions have begun to put this logic to work. A primary school in Liverpool played a soundscape of birdsong and other nature sounds after a lunch break, when students would normally be drowsy. This appeared to help them concentrate and become more alert. And birdsong is now used at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, where a lounge plays bird sounds to help travelers relax before flights.

So if you’re feeling stressed out, try playing a bit of birdsong. Or better yet, step outside and listen to the real thing.

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Bird sounds provided by The British Library. Recorded by P Riddett.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

© 2018 Tune In to  August 2018/2019   Narrator: Mary McCann