How Long Do Birds Live?

Birds are recognized as being one of the most popular pets.

They are beautiful, entertaining, and often long-lived.

However, most bird lovers are faced with the question – How long do birds live?

It’s a common question for the ones who want to bring a pet bird home.

So, if you too have faced this question and want to know how long birds live, then we must say that you are perfectly at the right place.

It’s a post that takes up and answers this very important question – How long do Birds Live.

How Long Do Birds Live

However, we must state that getting the precise information on the longevity of birds is not at all easy.

It is so because it’s nearly impossible to follow large groups of individuals from hatchling to death.

Moreover, the probability of death among birds remains roughly constant each year.

In fact, few birds die of old age.

They run the same gamut of risks year in and year out until they die or get killed.

Often the life expectancy in birds is correlated with their size.

The larger the species, the longer it is likely to live.

There are birds that tend to live long lives for their sizes.

For example, the Charadriiformes (shorebirds, gulls and terns, and auks) and Procellariiformes (tubenoses — albatrosses, shearwaters, and petrels).

However, the relationship is not exact.

For instance, titmice and chickadees, and wrens are short-lived than their sizes would predict.

Then, there are other factors which determine the life expectancy of a bird.

For example, the environmental factors especially when you bring home a bird pet. (More on it a bit later)

Also, it is seen that birds tend to be long-lived in captivity. One Sulphur-crested Cockatoo lived most of his 80+ years in a zoo.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Then, captive Canada Geese have lived for 33 years. House Sparrows for 23 years, and Northern Cardinals for almost 22 years.

However, in nature, these species survive for the much shorter period.

That said, the longest-living birds are the larger parrot species that live over 50 years.

In fact, many factors determine the lifespan of a bird.

First and foremost, a bird’s lifespan is determined by its species.

Some live longer than others. For example, Cockatiels and Budgies can live up to 20 years if they are well cared, and their needs are met.

Larger parrots, such as Macaws can live up to 100 years in captivity under optimal conditions.

As we mentioned earlier, environmental factors also play a dominant role in determining a bird’s lifespan.

You must provide best possible care to ensure that your bird pet lives a full and happy life.

Here are some useful tips for ensuring that your bird gets the most out of life, both regarding quality as well as quantity.

Follow Good Hygiene: Following good hygiene practices will ensure that there are fewer chances of bacterial or viral infection and disease.

So, your bird will live its full lifespan. For example, you should wash your hands before handling your pet. Keep the cage clean, and restrict contact with your bird when you are sick.

Proper Nutrition: Giving a healthy diet to your bird ensures that the bird gets proper vitamin intake and builds a natural immunity to illness and disease.

“Bird-proof” your home: Create bird-safe spaces in your home to protect your bird from accidents and injuries.

Go for regular Vet Checks: Take your bird to a trained and qualified avian vet on a regular basis even when they appear well. It will ensure that your bird lives a long and fulfilled life.

Well, to answer the question, “How long do birds live?” we have to get into a bit of maths now.

There are two important terms here.

Mortality and Survival.

They can be written as a percentage or as a fraction of one.

For example, a mortality of 87% can also be written as 0.87.

Usually, in such studies, the fraction-of-one method is used.

Thus, if mortality is 87% (0.87), the survival is 13% (0.13).

If 87% died then 13% must have lived.

(Note: Information regarding survival rates of birds is found by ringing. Rings are fitted with birds that track migration as well as help in determining the age of the bird.)

In fact, two expressions are used to calculate life expectancy of a bird:

Life expectancy = (2 – mortality) / (2 x mortality)

The other expression makes use of natural logarithms (Ln).

Life expectancy = 1 / Ln (survival)

We take the example of Robins (it is a familiar bird in many British gardens) whose mortality is 0.6.

So, using the first expression, the life expectancy of a Robin comes to 1.2 years.

Using the second expression, if the mortality is 0.6, then the survival comes to 0.4, and the life expectancy is 1.1 years.

As you can see, both these expressions give almost the same answer.

In fact, most of the common small birds have almost similar survival rate and life expectancy.

Most adult small birds (in temperate regions) have a life expectancy between 1 ¼ and 1 ½ years.

Generally, large birds, as well as seabirds, live longer than most small birds.

Then there are albatrosses, penguins, terns, and some other seabirds which can live 30 to 50 years.

Eagles live between 20 to 25 years and hawks for 8 to 20 years. Most songbirds live 8 to 12 years.


Generally, Hummingbirds live between 6 and 8 years.

Here are the details of the longevity of some wild birds:

American Robin – 12 years
Golden Eagle – 25 years
Barn Swallow – 16 years
Osprey – 32 years
Cedar Waxwing – 13 years
American Coot – 19 years
Wild Turkey – 15 years
European Starling – 20 years.

Now, we share with you the maximum known ages of some of the captive birds:

House Sparrow – 23 years
Herring Gull – 44 years
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – 80 years
Andean Condor – 77 years

Most common garden birds have an average lifespan of 2 and 5 years.

However, their maximum lifespan is much higher. For instance, the average age of a blue tit is about 2.7 years.

However, the oldest recorded was over 21 years.

However, we must point out that birds lead a difficult life.

For instance, if we consider migratory songbirds, the probability of making it from egg to adult (in the first year) is 25 percent or less.

Likewise, for adult songbirds, the annual mortality rate is quite high.

Here are some examples: European Staring – 53%, Song Sparrow – 73%, California quail – 50%, American Coot – 63%, and American Robin – 50%.

Song Sparrow

Moreover, the mortality rate of birds, in general, is quite high.

They are a victim of accidents, diseases, loss of food sources, and so on.

Then, there are some severe causes which lead to the decline of bird species, such as global warming and habitat destruction being among the most significant reasons.

So, we see that the actual age of an individual bird is variable for most species. In general, many young birds do not survive their first year.

However, once they attain breeding age, then their survival chances get improved.

We hope that the post helped you to know, How long do birds live?

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