Pet birds are smart, funny and often surprisingly cuddly and friendly. However, many pet bird species can also live a very long time. For some people, this is enticing – a chance to choose a companion for life! For others, this may prompt a second thought.
The truth is, a pet bird is not the right choice for every person. It can also make some pet bird species a better fit for owners in different stages of life.
Keep in mind that if you discover while reading this article that your favorite bird species might outlive you, remember that rescuing a shelter bird can be a great alternative. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of relinquished birds who need a new forever home – who knows, that new home might be with you!
Now let’s dive into learning all about the pet bird lifespan for different species of popular companion birds.
Most Commonly Kept Companion Birds
When you hear the phrase “pet bird,” you may instantly think of parrots. But actually there are several non-parrot species that are very popular too.
We will cover the lifespans for these frequently kept pet bird species in this article:
- Budgerigars (parakeets or “budgies”).
- Doves and Pigeons.
- African Grey parrots.
- Barnyard birds (chickens, ducks, geese).
Lifespans of Pet Birds
In each section here, you will find more information about the average life expectancy of each pet bird type. Keep in mind that lots of factors can influence how long an individual bird within each species may live.
This is why you will see the lifespan for each bird species presented as a range rather than as a single number.
As well, there are different species of birds within many (but not all) of the general types listed below. For example, canary species include American Singer, Spanish Timbrado and Waterslager (Water Singer), as Beauty of Birds highlights.
However, cockatiels represents a single type and species – there is not more than one species of cockatiels in this group.
So it is always smart to do additional research on your own to determine the life expectancy range for the specific species of bird you want to keep.
Finches are small, dynamic, active and vocal birds. They typically enjoy being housed in small groups. Depending on the species, finches can also be strikingly colorful and very beautiful to admire.
Finches typically live from three to 10 years, but can actually live as long as 20 years.
Many canaries are such amazing singers that enthusiasts have been attending canary singing contests since the 1960’s, as this amazing vintage New York Times article illustrates.
While not all canary species are known for their songs, when you choose a canary you can certainly expect a tuneful as well as beautiful pet.
The typical canary life expectancy ranges from eight to 16 years. However, it is not unheard of for a canary to live 20 years with proper care and an enriching life.
The pet “budgie” is the most popular pet parrot species around the world today. These birds can become amazing talkers and singers, mastering complex phrases and whole songs, although the males are more likely to talk than are the females.
Budgies generally live between five and 12 years. Lifespans of 15 years or longer are certainly well documented, however.
Lovebirds have traditionally been viewed as pet birds that always need to be kept in pairs.
However, modern avian science suggests this is not always the case, as VCA Animal Hospitals points out. Rather, it depends on the individual bird and owner – owners who can devote a lot of time to being their lovebird’s “other half” may do well keeping a single bird.
As well, be wary of adding a second lovebird if you already have an adult lovebird. These birds can become aggressive in adulthood towards other birds – they like to choose their own friends.
Lovebirds typically live eight to 15 years but can live as long as 20 years.
The cockatiel is a very social pet bird with a bright and sunny personality and a penchant for picking up short songs and serenading their owners.
They are smart and loving when hand-tamed and can be kept successfully in singles with an attentive owner. This is key – cockatiels fare very poorly when left alone and really need human interaction to thrive.
Cockatiels typically live 10 to 15 years. But there are many, many cockatiels that can easily top 20 years and some have lived into the 30’s.
Parrotlets are adorable small parrots that are best kept singly unless you rescue a bonded pair or you want to breed parrotlets. They are very confident birds and can become aggressive when kept with other birds with whom they do not share a bond.
These birds may be small in size but can have longer lifespans that easily reach 15 to 20 years according to the Animal Humane Society.
Conures are smart and social and absolutely need dedicated time with their human carers daily. These birds can become aggressive and destructive when neglected. They are amazing tricksters and can easily make up their own tricks to do to get your attention.
The conure lifespan can vary quite a bit depending on the specific species you are keeping. In general, conures will live between 15 and 20 years. But some species of conure can readily live 30 years or longer, as Psittacology explains.
Dove and Pigeon Lifespan
Doves are beautiful, sweet-natured, and relatively quiet pet birds, as Palomacy Pigeon and Dove Rescue charity explains.
Pet doves can easily live 15 to 20 years, as can pet pigeons (contrast that with the average one and a half years they live in the wild!).
African Grey Parrot Lifespan
The African Grey parrot has become famous for its intelligence, thanks largely to the pioneering work of Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her (now-late) bird, Alex, for whom the Alex Foundation is named.
African Grey parrots can easily live 40 to 60 years, although many of these time-intensive parrots live only half so long or less due to inadequate care and daily enrichment. They make for demanding but rewarding pets.
Whenever you consider making a commitment to one of these larger, longer-lived birds, it is vital to consider end-of-life planning that will provide for your bird should they outlive you. This is far more common than you might expect!
Cockatoos make for vibrant and exciting social media videos, but in a pet setting they are one of the most commonly relinquished pet parrot species.
These birds are incredibly loud! Owners often describe them as two-year-olds that never grow up, especially once they reach sexual maturity.
While the average life span of a captive cockatoo ranges from 40 to 60 years, these birds can live much longer and will often outlive their first owner.
Fred the Cockatoo recently turned 100 years old and received a congratulatory letter from no less than the Queen of Buckingham herself!
As the website Oldest points out, Macaws are perhaps the longest-lived parrot species in the world (with cockatoos right behind them).
Macaws are very challenging birds to keep and care for. Their sheer volume can (and does) cause problems with neighbors – even if you have some distance between you! They are prone to feather plucking and destructiveness if not given enough attention and enrichment.
But where macaws really set themselves apart is when it comes to longevity. A large macaw species can easily top 100 years – rivaling some of the longest-lived giant turtle species in terms of lifespan.
However, keep in mind as well that the species of macaw can influence lifespan. For example, a blue and gold macaw such as Charlie will live considerably longer than smaller macaw species such as so-called “miniature” Hahn’s Macaw live around 30 years on average.
The Hyacinth macaw, the largest macaw bird species in the world, can readily live up to two decades longer.
Barnyard Birds Lifespan
Keeping chickens, ducks and geese has become more common today even in urban and inner-city areas.
These smart, social birds can make great company and fun pets for the right person with enough time and space to offer them.
The average lifespan of captive poultry birds ranges from 10 to 15 years depending on the species (there are many different duck, chicken and goose species).
As you can see, the pet bird you choose may easily be with you for a decade or a century. This can be exciting but also expensive and time-consuming, so it is worth carefully considering which species is right for you.