A tui enjoys a piece of fruit. (Karl Webber photo)

What’s better: a backyard full of birds or a pay raise? When it comes to happiness, a new study suggests the richness of bird species holds more value.

While it’s no secret that being rich takes much of the pressure off our day-to-day lives, researchers in this month’s Ecological Economics journal found living near natural surroundings, especially in areas with more species of birds, had a closer link to life satisfaction than income.

Analyzing data from 26,000 adults across 26 European countries, compiled from the 2012 European Quality of Life Survey, the researchers conclude that diversity in nature, especially of birds, had the greatest influence on people’s moods.

“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,” said the study’s lead author, Joel Methorst, a doctoral researcher at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, the iDiv, and the Goethe University in Frankfurt, in a press release.

Read the rest on NationalPost (Canada)