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The more bird species we live near, the happier we are, new study finds

The greater the diversity of birds we are surrounded by, the better our quality of life, a new German study finds.

“All across Europe, the individual enjoyment of life correlates with the number of surrounding bird species,” the study’s authors write.

Living and working near a bio-diverse population of birds is as important to our happiness levels as our income. A 10% increase in bird diversity increases our satisfaction with life as much as a 10% pay raise, the researchers found.

They used data from the “2012 European Quality of Life Survey” to determine whether there was a connection between birds and happiness in more than 26,000 adults from 26 European countries.

“The happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species,”says the study’s lead author Joel Methorst, a doctoral researcher at Goethe University in Frankfurt.

As the most visible elements of the animate nature, birds are good indicators of overall biological diversity, particularly in urban areas.

Even when they are not visible, they are the most audible of the wildlife humans typically encounter. Most of us take for granted how much their cheerful songs do to boost our mood.

But there is also a second aspect of bird abundance that affects life satisfaction: the environment. The places with the most bird species are typically the most natural, generally bio-diverse landscapes, with adequate green space (forests) and blue space (water). Blue and green spaces have been linked to happiness in many other studies.

Sara Burrows

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