How long do parrots live? | All about parrot life span

If you’re thinking of keeping a parrot as a pet, you’re probably wondering how many years you’ll be able to enjoy your feathered friend for. How long do parrots live? It greatly varies per species, but the good news is that generally speaking, parrot lifespan is pretty impressive!

Keep reading for everything you need to know about the life expectancy of parrots and what influences it.

How long do parrots live?

Before we go into parrot lifespan, it’s important to consider that there are multiple ways of looking at age. We could go by average lifespan, potential lifespan or even median lifespan and get completely different numbers! There is also a big difference between parrot lifespans in the wild and in captivity.

One thing we can say for sure is that parrots are among the most long-lived pets out there. Large species, especially cockatoos, have been confirmed to be able to make it to 80+ years old! Even tiny parrots like the ubiquitous budgie can actually live for up to 30 years, although most of them pass away much earlier than that due to bad care.

Whatever parrot you choose, you should make sure to give at least some thought to what your life is going to look like in a few years. Obviously we can never predict where things are going to go, but since many larger parrots have the potential to actually outlive you, it’s important to think long and hard before adding one to your family.

The list below contains some popular parrot species and their potential lifespans. Note, again, that this is potential. As we’ll lay out below, there are lots of factors that influence how long your parrot ends up living. Not all of them are in our hands. With a combination of good care and a dose of luck, though, your bird could make it to the age listed.

African grey parrot sitting on stairs steps. | How long do parrots live? All about parrot lifespan.
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Agapornis roseicollis (Peach-faced lovebird), read moreUp to 30
Amazona auropalliata (Yellow naped Amazon parrot)Up to 60
Ara ararauna (Blue and yellow macaw)Up to 60
Aratinga solstitialis (Sun conure), read moreUp to 30
Bolborhynchus lineola (Lineolated parakeet)Up to 15
Cacatua moluccensis (Moluccan cockatoo)Up to 70
Eclectus roratus (Eclectus parrot)Up to 50
Forpus coelestis (Pacific parrotlet)Up to 30
Melopsittacus undulatus (Budgie), read moreUp to 20
Myiopsitta monachus (Quaker parrot), read moreUp to 30
Nymphicus hollandicus (Cockatiel), read moreUp to 30
Platycercus eximius (Eastern rosella)Up to 25
Poicephalus senegalus (Senegal parrot)Up to 40
Psittacula krameri (Indian ringnecked parakeet)Up to 40
Psittacus erithacus (African grey parrot)Up to 60
Pyrrhura molinae (Green-cheeked conure), read moreUp to 30
Trichoglossus moluccanus (Rainbow lorikeet)Up to 25
Blue male budgerigar parakeet sitting on a perch. | How long do parrots live? Full guide to parrot lifespan.
Even small parakeets like budgies can live for 15+ years!

What influences parrot life span?

All this talk about parrot lifespan is great, but it’s important to keep in mind that the ages listed are not a given. Whether your own pet parrot will make it to a respectable age or not greatly depends on you. Good care, a proper diet, avoiding accidents and allowing your parrot to exhibit its natural behaviors are all contributing factors.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the things you can do to make sure your parrot is happy and healthy for years to come.

Diet

One of the care aspects where things most frequently go wrong when it comes to parrot care is diet. The myth that these birds can thrive on a diet of just seeds is still very pervasive. It makes sense to think this, because it’s true that some wild species such as budgies mostly eat grass seeds.

If you take a closer look at parrot dietary needs, though, you’ll quickly find that seeds should not form the base. Yes, some wild parrots live off them, but they also move around infinitely more than any indoor pet parrot ever would. The high fat content of seeds is not a bother to them. Additionally, many other species barely eat any seeds at all.

Although we’re usually not able to sample exactly the variety that parrots eat in the wild (and many of these items are just not available in our regions), we can let their wild diets inspire us. Let’s take a look at what wild Indian ringnecked parakeets eat, for example.

  • According to Wikipedia, Indian ringnecked parakeets feed on flower buds, fruits, veggies, berries and seeds. They will eat also eat grasses, legumes and dates. Even farmers’ crops aren’t safe from them, as they love corn and sunflower seeds.

So, how do we translate this to pet parrots? We’ll have to keep in mind that wild ringnecks can easily eat more sugary and fatty foods, as they fly large distances daily and get a lot of exercise. We’ll have to maintain the same level of variety while decreasing the amount of sugar and fat a bit. We can replace this with nutrient-dense but low calorie options. For example:

  • 30% fresh veggies, 20% pelleted food, 15% fresh fruit, 15% high quality seed mix, 10% (sprouted) legumes, 10% foraged foods like fresh leaves, flowers and grass.

The above is obviously only an example and dietary needs vary from species to species. It’s the way of thinking itself, keeping the wild parrot in mind but adjusting for captive circumstances, that’s important.

Did you know? Sunflower seeds are still marketed as a parrot food. Parrots do love these seeds but they should only be used as (training) treats. They’re extremely high in fat and don’t provide much actual nutrition at all.

Close-up of green and yellow Amazon parrot enjoying a bowl of corn.
A high-quality diet with lots of fresh foods is essential to long-term parrot health.

General care

Apart from diet, there are many more general are factors that play a role in keeping your parrot healthy. They mostly center around safety and (mental) exercise.

  • Your parrot should have a large cage and plenty of time to roam outside. This helps stimulate its mind and aids in avoiding obesity, a big “sneaky” parrot killer.
  • Your parrot should have access to lots of toys and be able to play with you or other parrots. Again, both of these are great for both its mind and its body.
  • Any area that your parrot has access to should be “parrot-proofed”. This means it should be free of dangerous items as well as fumes from smoke, perfumes, air fresheners, non-stick pans and more. Birds have very sensitive lungs!
  • You should read up a little on basic parrot emergency care and keep a little first aid kit ready. Additionally, of course, you should have the number for a reputable avian vet on hand.

Luck

As much as we can try to provide the best possible care for our pet parrots, not all of it’s in our hands. Accidents do happen, and so do diseases.

Many pet store birds don’t have the best genetics, meaning they’re more prone to health issues like the formation of tumors. If you have a rescue bird it’s even iffier, because you will often have no clue what it went through before ending up in your care. All you can do is make sure your husbandry is top notch and the rest is up to fate!

Grey cockatiel parrot with white face.
Popular parrots like cockatiels are often the victims of bad husbandry and seen as disposable.

Famous old parrots

A quick look at the Guinness Book of World Records and other sources reveals a wide array of parrots that (supposedly) reached crazy ages. Some are more believable than others (if it’s in the Guinness Book, it’s verified). We’ll let you judge for yourself!

  • Oldest parrot (according to the Guinness Book): Cookie the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, who passed away at 82.
  • Oldest budgie: Charlie the budgie. We couldn’t find the Guinness Book page but he’s apparently listed in there as having lived for 29 years.
  • Oldest cockatiel living (according to the Guinness Book): Sunshine, who was 32 in 2016.
  • A scientific study of parrot lifespan, “Survival on the Ark”, lists their oldest recorded bird as being a 92 year old Moluccan cockatoo.
  • Poncho the parrot is a greenwing macaw that was said to have been 90 years old in 2015.
  • Charlie the parrot, a macaw, is said to be over 115 years old. It’s also claimed that Charlie once belonged to Winston Churchill, although this has been pretty solidly debunked.

If you have any more questions about parrot life span or if you want to share your own experiences, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! ?

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