Moving story reveals watching birds can mean more than you think

Moving story reveals watching birds can mean more than you think

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We know many of our customers enjoy watching garden birds, as they're great entertainment with their funny little quirks and foibles.

However, a moving story broadcast on a BBC Radio 4 programme has shown just how much this simple pleasure can mean for people experiencing difficult times in life.

Susan Andrews lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and told interviewers for iPM that she has participated in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch - an annual event that takes place at the end of January - for a number of years with her mother Sheila.

Unfortunately, Sheila has now developed dementia and her memory loss is impacting upon her everyday life, as well as the relationship the two shared.

However, Susan has continued to join in with the Birdwatch and discovered that keeping Sheila involved is a good way for them to connect and focus on the positive side of life.

"An hour spent counting birds is the perfect thing to do with Mum," Susan explained, adding that they have seen birds from ducks and Canada Geese to a solitary Heron during their sessions sitting at the window.

Of course, Sheila doesn't remember what she has seen after the hour is up, but Susan said she is always very pleased to see the birds at the time, which stimulates conversation and can even spark some fleeting memories.

Not only is this beneficial for Sheila, but it is also therapeutic and reassuring for her daughter too, as she pointed out: "You should never stop sharing those things if you can. She doesn't really remember it now, but I remember it - and that's the important thing."

The benefits of encouraging people with dementia to interact with nature have long been recognised and in 2013, the RSPB teamed up with Care UK to release a CD of birdsong for people in nursing homes.

Both organisations have also encouraged participation in the Big Garden Birdwatch because it can be both relaxing and stimulating to watch and count the creatures from either outdoors or indoors.