Three Ways to Overcome the Fear of Birds

Fear of birds can complicate your daily life. Today's article will focus on a series of self-help exercises to overcome this problem.
Three Ways to Overcome the Fear of Birds
María Vélez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Vélez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Ornithophobia, the fear of birds, is an irrational reaction that can seriously affect the lives of those afflicted by it. These people intensely reject these animals. However, as with most phobias, they can overcome it through a series of exercises.

You must make an effort and be constant in order to confront fear. This is because it’s a complex and delicate process. However, phobias require a lot more work; they’re anxiety disorders that can seriously impact a person’s daily life. Thus, the best way to overcome them is to seek professional help.

“It’s called ornithophobia and someday it will be recognized as a true disability, and the landlord will be required by law to put a giant net over the building. Which is unfortunate because I have a fear of nets.”

-Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory

How to overcome a fear of birds

Traumatic experiences are the origin of most fears and phobias and so are ignorance and learned behaviors. Thus, the goal of phobia interventions is to generate a positive or neutral experience with the object you fear.

The psychological techniques use various strategies. One of them involves learning more about the animal and demystifying it in order to acquire new emotions. That is, you must make contact with the object of your fear in a relaxed manner. You can do these exercises autonomously and at your leisure. However, it’s best to have the guidance and professional knowledge of a psychologist when your fear is really intense.

Such exercises can be very useful in overcoming your fear of birds, as long as you previously analyze whether you can do it on your own or need psychological help.

A woman with a fear of birds.

1. Learn about birds

Find out about birds, especially about those that scare you the most. Learning about their behavior, survival strategies, and role in nature can diminish the intensity of your fear.

You can start by reading information about harmless birds. Being aware of the conditions in which one of these animals is more likely to attack will definitely make you feel in control. Also, it’s useful to know about their environment and under which circumstances they’d be willing to approach a human.

This knowledge will help you think of birds from another perspective and focus on their positive side. Learning more about them will lead you to break down some myths you may have about them. Just like the fact that house spiders can’t pierce human skin and will much rather run away from a human than confront us.

2. Make contact little by little

Make a list of ways in which you can interact with birds. Write down ten things you’re afraid of when it comes to them. The number one should indicate what you’re least anxious about, a drawing of a bird, for instance, and 10 what truly terrifies you, such as a bird in your field of vision.

You’ll progressively have to make contact with these elements. Thus, plan and follow a schedule, noting how much time you’ll spend each day and how long it’ll last. You should also try to make contact with the same stimulus several times until your anxiety level decreases. To do this, rate your anxiety level on a scale of 1 to 10 and repeat it with every element.

Then, you can move on to more unpleasant stimuli or go on to the next element if you score lower than five after several tries. On the contrary, you’ll have to stick to the same element if your anxiety level increases. Do so until it decreases and then move on to the next element on your list. In that regard, it’s essential to practice relaxation exercises. Do them while you’re trying to deal with the object of your fear if you can.

You may need to seek psychological help if your anxiety doesn’t diminish or if you’re not able to move forward after trying for a while. Otherwise, follow the above recommendations for your level of anxiety until you score 10 if you feel strong enough to continue.

3. Enjoy the approach

Surely you’ve already approached some kind of bird during your contact with simple stimuli by the time you get to the 10th element. Once you’re there, you’ll have reached the most important step in overcoming your fear of birds. Now it’s time to replace the negative emotions with positive ones and try to get closer to one of these animals. Stay calm and try not to run away in order to do so.

Stay close to the bird but maintain some distance. Get a little closer if your level of anxiety allows it. After learning about birds, you’ll probably be able to identify the species and realize you’re safe. In addition to this step, you might want to visit a bird sanctuary where the animals are sort of free.

Once you’re near an animal, take the opportunity to watch them and analyze their body, colors, and, above all, their behavior. You’ll probably realize that nothing bad happens when you’re around birds. In fact, they’ll be probably frightened of you and won’t even come near you. Thus, try not to make any sudden movements and maintain a relaxed posture. Also, it may seem a bit far-fetched but talking to the animals can make you feel more comfortable and perceive them as friendlier.

A bird on a windowsill.

Analyze your fear of birds

You can overcome your fear of birds by doing the above exercises. Even so, the most important thing is for you to be aware of your limits and not try to extend yourself beyond them. Step aside for as long as you need to if you feel uncomfortable at any time. Consider professional help as the next step.

However, you can always overcome fear on your own and this is good because it’ll reinforce your self-confidence and make you feel safer. Thus, you’ll be stronger and able to control not just this fear but any other.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.