When it comes to owning a pet we must all agree that their lives are oh, so short and swift! But when considering the age of parrots and some other birds, you may have to include the bird in your will because it is very possible that your parrot may live longer than you!
The parrot comes from a large group of birds which vary from the tiniest of the tiny to some that are as large as a cat! These 279 species of parrot have life spans as variable as their size and potential parrot owners should be aware that a bird’s life could very well outlast their own – and you just may need to arrange for a provider who could end up caring for your bird.
The Methuselah Bird
The parrot is a special breed among pet birds because many parrot species have the potential to accompany you through most (or even all) of your life. In fact, parrots tend to live longer in captivity because they have less tendency to encounter a predator than in the wild unless they encounter some feisty cat who fancies a fight with this defensive bird. (The African Grey Parrot has fended off human attackers in order to protect their keepers!) Captivity also reduces the chances of contracting a disease – although this doesn’t guarantee a parrot a long life or an exemption from illness.
Big Bird, Long Life
“Large birds live longer” is the general rule but this pertains to its health and habitat. A bird in good health living in ideal conditions is going to usually have a long, long life. Below is a short list of common pet birds and their expected lifespans:
Parakeet: 5-18 years
African Grey Parrot: 40-60 years (or longer!)
Amazon Parrot: 20-75 years
Canaries: 10 years
Cockatiels: 10-15 years
Cockatoos: 20-60 years, depending on the species
Doves: 20 years or more (in the wild, it is only about 1 1/2 years)
Finches: typically 5-9 years but longer if housed in an aviary
Lovebirds: 10-15 years
Macaws: 30-50 years or more, depending on the species
Pigeons: 15 years (in the wild, it is only about 5 years)
Senegal Parrots: up to 50 years (in the wild, it is only about 25 years)
Nutrition, veterinary care, and mental health all factor into the long life of your pet bird as does the bird’s environment. A secure and clean enclosure with plenty of wing space is a must for keeping your feathery friend happy. Lots of natural sunlight aids birds by allowing them to better process nutrients and establish a day and night cycle for healthier mental health.
What the Flock
If your bird is a community bird, you may consider rooming it up with other birds. Humans cannot stand in for another bird who is a flock species.
The Bird Diet
A healthy bird ties into a healthy diet which prevents sickness and disease. A bird’s diet should include seeds, grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits and pellets. It’s critical to maintain bird health by balancing vitamins, proteins, fats, and minerals. For instance, a bird fed a diet consisting mainly of sunflower seeds contains very few nutrients and a very high concentration of fat!
The Senior Bird
Age creeps up on everyone and everything. When your bird reaches its senior years it’s important that you make some adjustments to your bird’s diet and environment. A sedentary bird will gain weight due to less activity so it may be wise to limit its diet by cutting down treats and limiting snacks. With age other problems may develop such as arthritis and cataracts which limit the movement of your pet around the cage. Therefore, it may be necessary to adjust perches and food locations to allow your bird the most comfortable places to eat and rest. For arthritic birds you may want to consider placing a towel or something soft on the bottom of the cage in case of a perch mishap and your bird falls.
Some bird species living in captivity can live quite a long time. Budgies (parakeets) and cockatiels can live up to 20 years! Larger parrots and macaws can live even longer in captivity under optimal conditions (up to 100 years or longer in some cases). All of this, of course, is based on the bird’s biological makeup, the bird’s environment, hygiene (this includes washing your hands before handling your bird as well as keeping the bird cage clean and restricting contact with your bird if you are sick). Bird proof your home by creating safe places your bird can play without exposure to poisons or other harmful circumstances. A long healthy life for your bird can be a vet trip away with regular vet check-ups!
By Tom Matteo
About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He has written hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and now writes about animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife, Tina, and their beloved cockapoo, Angel.