Writer and public speaker

Birdwatching and mental health

Joe Harkness writes and speaks about the benefits of birdwatching for mental health and wellbeing. As well as living with various issues himself, he works in special education and is highly experienced at connecting with vulnerable people.


Joe started his (now defunct) Bird Therapy blog in 2015, which led to him writing a book, with the same title. No mainstream publisher would take a gamble on Bird Therapy and he had to crowdfund a 5-figure sum to publish it with Unbound. Support from almost 900 people, along with celebrities such as Chris Packham and Bill Bailey, meant the book was published in June 2019, with a paperback version due on April 16th 2020. He has also written for numerous publications, including: The Guardian, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Birdwatch Magazine and Birdwatching Magazine.

You can email Joe about writing here.

Bird Therapy

Teaching pack

Joe has also produced a 40-page teaching pack, based on the ideas in his book. The pack is free and he can be contacted directly here to request a copy. It is suitable for KS3, KS4 and adult learners and is a self-contained resource pack. Joe can also be contacted to request commissions or talks/events.

Email Joe here to get a free copy.

Public Speaking

Joe is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken at a range of venues, including: Cambridge University, the Birdfair and at NWT Cley Marshes. His talks have been described as moving, inspirational and honest and he pulls no punches when discussing his experiences. His proudest moment is discussing mental health and suicide on BBC WinterWatch, alongside Chris Packham.

You can email Joe here about public speaking engagements.