Meet some LSS Bird Lovers
“I’d say they’re proof of God’s love through creation.” That’s how Gerry Harding, a life-long bird lover, explains her affection for birds. Every morning for decades, Gerry and her husband would perform their morning devotionals while enjoying the wild birds right outside their windows. When they decided 10 years ago to move to Breeze Park, a Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Community in Weldon Spring, Missouri, the only thing she worried about was missing the birds. Fortunately for Gerry, Breeze Park wanted her to live life to the fullest and installed bird feeders that she could see from her bedroom window in her new home.
Gerry, like many older adults, benefits from watching her feathered friends. Studies have shown that birdwatching promotes mental and physical health for older adults. Remembering bird calls, noting small differences in species, and marking migratory patterns are all excellent cognitive exercises. For those who have access, exploring new places and getting outdoors is a great opportunity for physical exercise and grounding oneself in nature.
Due to their scenic settings, residents at many Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Communities enjoy wonderful opportunities to view birds on the community grounds or from their own windows like Gerry.
Moe and Patty Sandfort, also Breeze Park residents, love to see their local Cardinal family visit their feeders. Though they’ve enjoyed birds for years, they recently took things high-tech with a fly-through feeder that livestreams to their cellphones. They enjoy getting an up-close view of their feathered neighbors.
Gerry, Moe, and Patty have a friendly rivalry regarding the Breeze Park Woodpeckers.
For years, Gerry had both Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers visit her feeders. Then two years ago when Moe and Patty put out their feeders, Gerry noticed that she hadn’t seen “her” Woodpeckers. “I told them that they stole my Woodpeckers!” she laughed. “The birds here are like us, they have a lot of dining options,” Moe joked.
The Downy Woodpecker is a fan favorite of Bob Bartlett, a resident at Lenoir Woods, an LSS Life Plan Community, in Columbia, Missouri. His interest in birds dates back to earning a bird watching badge as a Boy Scout. He later took an adult education class about birding and it reignited his interest. He has been photographing birds since 2007 and enjoys visits from Woodpeckers of both varieties.
“I get 20-30 different bird species in my backyard,” said Bob, “My favorites are the Woodpeckers and the Tufted Titmouse.” While he enjoys his bird visitors, he also likes to go visiting! He has traveled to birding sanctuaries across the United States including Yellowstone and the Dakotas, New Mexico and Arizona, the Gulf Coast of Texas, Florida, and even following the Mississippi River to Lake Superior. “I’m interested in going to the places where the birds are,” he said.
Bird watching has been shown to improve mental cognition and mood in older adults by creating opportunities to learn new things and connect with nature. Gerry keeps a book of unusual birds she sees and notes details and dates about her encounters. Bob expands his photography skills and explores the country on his birding excursions. Moe and Patty are adapting to new technology to enjoy a whole new perspective on birds.
As LSS Life Plan Community residents Gerry, Moe, Patty, and Bob have found, bird watching is a great hobby and their communities are great places to do it!