Learn How to Determine Your Bird's Age

How Do Determine Your Bird's Age?
How Do Determine Your Bird's Age?. Melissa Lewis / EyeEm/Getty Images

Question: Your Bird's Age

I may be the only one wondering about this, but I'm curious about pet birds and their ages. I have read something about dogs aging 7 years for every year that passes, and I've also heard similar comparisons for cats and other types of animals. Does the same sort of thing hold true for parrots and other types of birds? I have an Umbrella Cockatoo that is 3 years old. Applying the rules that I've heard about pet ages, she would actually be closer to 21 years as far as her physical development.

Is that accurate? What is the best way to determine the most accurate age for a bird?

Answer: This is a question that many, many people have in regards to their feathered friends, so you are not alone at all. It's true that there is a lot of information out there about how to judge a pet's age in "dog years" or "cat years" for example, but a fact about pet birds is that most of the larger parrot species have lifespans similar to humans or even greater in some cases. This makes measuring their age in anything but regular, 365 day years a moot point. The general rule of thumb about how companion parrots age is this: The larger the bird, the longer the lifespan.

Your Umbrella Cockatoo, if all goes well, could end up living for many, many decades or even longer so it's safe to say that her current age, 3 years, is about as accurate as it gets. Physically, your bird is very young, even though she might not look like it on the outside.

The age of cells that make up her body could be compared to those of a 3 year old human toddler, so when you think of it in those terms, it should be easy to understand why it would be a mistake to measure her age in the same way that many do with dogs and cats

As I have written before, most of the larger bird species don't age any faster or slower than people do.

On the contrary, the rate at which their bodies age is remarkably similar to that of the average person. Some types of birds, however, namely smaller species, don't have as long a life span as the larger parrots. Some examples would be birds like Cockatiels, Lovebirds, and the Plum-Headed Parakeet, all of which have an average life expectancy of around 20 years under optimal conditions. In species such as these, a little math could come in handy when trying to figure out their age in "human years." The average life expectancy for a person is somewhere between 75 and 80 years on average, so it could be said, for example, that a Cockatiel that was 10 years old is actually around 40 years old in "human years." Some birds, like Canaries, usually only live to be 10 years old, so they would age in "human years" even faster than a Cockatiel.

As your bird gets older, it's important to support his or her physical condition with a diet that includes plenty of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables. You might even want to try to learn how to make Chop and Grain Bake. Chop is primarily a raw avian diet composed of mostly healthy vegetables that can be frozen for ease and convenience. And of course, an all-seed diet is dangerous and unhealthy, so this is not at all recommended.


You should also a include schedule that includes an adequate amount of exercise as well as a regular routine that allows your companion bird approximately 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.  Birds who aren't as physically active as they should be tend to have shorter life spans on average, much like their human counterparts who don't get enough exercise. The bottom line is that as long as we take care of our birds as well as we (hopefully) take care of ourselves, we should be rewarded with happy and healthy pets that are able to meet or even exceed the average expected life spans for their species.

Edited by: Patricia Sund