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Getting a daily dose of ornitherapy is just what the doctor ordered at a “Ding” Darling lecture

Holly Merker birding.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Holly Merker birding.

When author, art therapist, and environmental educator Holly Merker learned she had cancer she turned to her lifelong passion for birdwatching as a sort of therapy. She says spending time in nature seeking out, and mindfully watching birds, helped her slow down and actively reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Merker is giving a free lecture Friday, February 11, 2022 for the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society called “Ornitherapy: How a Deeper Experience with Nature Can Enrich Your Mind, Body, and Soul.”

About the lecture
As part of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s 40th Anniversary Wellness Week: Mind. Body. Heart. Feb. 7-12, Merker’s presentation explores a mindful approach to the observation of birds and how it benefits our holistic health and well-being. Based on the book Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul, which she co-published with Richard and Sophie Crossley in 2021, Merker will talk about how allowing birds and nature to slow us down actively reduces stress, depression, and anxiety, while helping to build a stronger heart and immune system.


  • Holly Merker, author, art therapist, and environmental educator