With over 11,000 identified bird species, there are more than 50 billion birds in the world. Birds vary widely in length of life, depending on the species.
Many species of birds can live for decades or longer; however, warblers and songbirds often only live for ten years or less. Which avian species lives the longest?
Table of Contents
Top Longest-Living Bird Species
Some of the oldest and longest-living bird species ever documented are these:
- MAJOR MITCHELL’S COCKATOO
- GREEN-WINGED MACAW
- BLUE-AND-YELLOW MACAW
- AMERICAN FLAMINGO
- CALIFORNIA CONDOR
- WHITE COCKATOO
- LAYSAN ALBATROSS
- SANDHILL CRANE
- GREAT FRIGATEBIRD
- SOOTY TERN
- ATLANTIC PUFFIN
- BALD EAGLE
1. MAJOR MITCHELL’S COCKATOO
Australia is home to Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, sometimes known as the pink cockatoo. Its name is derived from Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, a British Army officer who oversaw South Wales’ surveying efforts.
This cockatoo features a big, vividly colored crest at the top of its head, which is a blend of pink and white feathers. The crest’s vivid red and yellow stripes stand out against the bird’s light-colored plumage.
Major Mitchell’s cockatoos are among the oldest birds ever documented! Cockatoo Cookie, in the Brookfield Zoo outside of Chicago, lived to reach eighty-three years old. Cocky Bennet was a cockatoo that lived for over 120 years before dying in 1916.
2. GREEN-WINGED MACAW
The green-winged macaw is another macaw species with an incredibly long lifespan! These birds, also called red-and-green macaws, are primarily red with green and vivid blue feathers running the length of their wings. All over South America, forest settings are home to them.
One of the largest macaw species is the green-winged macaw, which has a length of around 26 to 37 inches and a wingspan of approximately 41 to 49 inches. These birds can mimic human speech, just like other parrot species. Although these birds are in high demand as pets, they mate for life and become sad when left alone.
A bird named Poncho, who starred in films like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and 102 Dalmatians, is one of the oldest known green-winged macaws. This bird from Hollywood lived to be above ninety years old.
3. BLUE-AND-YELLOW MACAW
The brilliant blue and golden orange feathers on these South American macaw parrots, along with green patches on top of their heads, give them their name. Owing to their remarkable beauty and capacity for linguistic acquisition, blue-and-yellow macaws are a common household pet.
Although macaws in the wild already have lengthy lives, they might outlive the average human when they’re taken captive. Winston Churchill is said to have owned a blue-and-yellow macaw that lived for more than 114 years! Charlie, the bird, has gained notoriety for his outrageous outbursts.
4. AMERICAN FLAMINGO
The only native flamingo species in North America is the American flamingo, which is particularly widespread in Florida. It is also found in the West Indies and South America, among other places on Earth. Typically, this vivid pink bird inhabits mudflats or shallow coastal waters.
The American flamingo can live for over 60 years, and most flamingo species have fairly long lifespans. At the Smithsonian Zoo, Betty, an American Flamingo, lived to be a luscious 67-year-old!
5. CALIFORNIA CONDOR
With an average wingspan of 9.8 feet and a weight of up to 26 pounds, the California Condor is the biggest terrestrial bird in North America. These birds have patches of white feathers beneath their wings, but their main color is black. It can keep itself clean while feeding because it has no hair on its head or neck.
The California Condor was once entirely extinct in the wild, making it an endangered species. The recognized population of condors as of right now numbers just over 500. These birds may live up to 60 years, despite the numerous hazards they encounter.
6. WHITE COCKATOO
This type of cockatoo, sometimes known as the umbrella cockatoo, has a semi-circular crest on top of its head and is completely white. Although they are kept as domesticated pets, these birds are primarily found in tropical rainforest regions in the wild! Its usual length is eighteen inches, and its weight ranges from 1.1 to 1.4 pounds.
It is well known that white cockatoos live long lives, particularly when housed in captivity. These birds can survive for more than 60 years as long as they receive the right care! Regretfully, white cockatoos are becoming less common in the wild due to habitat destruction.
7. LAYSAN ALBATROSS
The Hawaiian island of Laysan is the source of the seabird’s name, the Laysan Albatross. With a population of about 1.18 million, the majority of these birds may be found all across the Hawaiian Islands! It is a smaller seabird, having a wingspan of about 77 to 80 inches and a weight of 4.2 to 9 pounds.
Even though they have huge populations, Laysan albatrosses face several threats, including fishing, plastic waste, and predation by domestic animals. This implies that these birds can have quite different lifespans. The oldest Laysan albatross known to science is 73 years old, despite having an average lifespan of less than 40 years!
8. SANDHILL CRANE
There are considerable populations of these cranes in Siberia and North America. Typically, its wingspan is between 5.5 and 7.7 feet. The sandhill crane’s broad wingspan allows it to soar for hours at a time, only infrequently pumping its wings to maintain altitude.
Given that the earliest known fossil of a sandhill crane dates back over two million years, sandhill cranes rank among the oldest species of birds still in existence. An estimated 10 million years have passed since the discovery of a crane fossil in Nebraska. According to experts, this fossil and the sandhill crane are closely linked.
Lack of resources has caused many sandhill cranes to have shorter lives, endangering them in the wild. They can, however, live a long time. The oldest bird ever observed lived for 36 years and 7 months.
9. GREAT FRIGATEBIRD
The tropical Pacific region, which includes the Galapagos Islands and the Indian Ocean, is home to great frigatebirds. It is a pretty large seabird, measuring between 2.8 and 3.4 feet in length and weighing an average of 2.2 to 4 pounds.
Although males have a more pronounced coloring, with a brilliant red patch of featherless flesh beneath their beaks, females are typically larger than males. Males may blow out this skin to entice females during mating.
This bird can live for a long time in the field, despite the paucity of information regarding its lifespan. The record-holding oldest banded bird survived to be more than 38 years old!
10. SOOTY TERN
When it comes time for them to procreate, these tropical seabirds only come back to land. For the most part, they soar across the ocean. They may linger barely over the water when they’re in flight to capture fish. The Sooty Tern, sometimes referred to as manatura on Easter Island, is revered as a sacred bird.
The sooty tern typically takes roughly six years to reach adulthood. These birds are widespread and typically reside in sizable colonies.
The oldest banded bird had a lifespan of about 36 years, and they typically live to be older than 30. The sooty tern faces numerous risks, including domestic cat predation and water pollution.
11. ATLANTIC PUFFIN
The Atlantic puffin, sometimes known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird that lives close to the Atlantic Ocean. The Westman Islands in Iceland are home to the majority of puffin populations. These birds have brilliant orange feet and beaks, although they are mainly black and white.
The Atlantic puffin reaches adulthood between the ages of three and six, and it usually lives quite a long time after that. A banded puffin chick in Norway lived to be forty-one years old!
Even if that is greater than the typical puffin’s lifespan, the bird is not a significant exception. Many banded birds have lived for over thirty years of age.
12. BALD EAGLE
Throughout North America, bald eagles can be seen frequently in the vicinity of wetland areas. These massive predators have the potential to reach a wingspan of 5.9 to 7.7 feet. Generally speaking, female eagles are at least 25% larger than males.
Although they typically don’t last longer than 30 years in the wild, bald eagles can lead longer lives in captivity. The oldest bald eagle known to science was 38 years old. Numerous factors, including habitat loss, lead poisoning, and illegal shootings, pose a threat to bald eagles.
What is the average bird’s lifespan?
A bird’s lifespan is determined by its species, habitat, and level of captivity.
It is difficult to determine the precise lifespan of wild birds, though, because after a bird reaches maturity, its feathers do not reveal its age. Therefore, to ascertain the age of birds, ornithologists have to rely on ringing them or attaching transmitters to them and recapturing them years later.
Approximately half of baby birds die before they even get an opportunity to leave the nest, meaning that about 80% of them do not survive to adulthood. Because these numbers differ significantly throughout species, many birds raise several broods and sizable clutches of eggs every season.
But after a bird reaches adulthood, its annual mortality rate is rather constant, but it still depends on the species and its habitat. For example, little songbirds have a life expectancy of less than a year and a 70% annual probability of dying. On the other end of the spectrum, albatrosses live an average of thirty years and have a 3% annual chance of dying.
To put it another way, birds don’t usually die of old age; instead, they suffer the same dangers from weather, predators, starvation, sickness, hunting, and poaching every year until they are finally killed. If a bird is lucky enough to live to old age, as it ages and gets more frail and susceptible, its annual chance of dying may rise once more.
Though this isn’t always the case, a bird’s average lifespan tends to decrease with size. The maximum age attained by wild birds is frequently significantly greater than the average, indicating that birds are capable of living longer provided they avoid any threats that could endanger their lives.
While great tits have an average lifespan of only three years, the oldest known ringed great tit was ten years and five months old, and the oldest ringed magpie was twenty-one years and eight months.
Bird Lifespan Chart
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Some birds even challenge the average life span of humans, which is around 70 years. However, as we continue to destroy their habitat and contaminate the land and water with plastics and fossil fuels, these animals are becoming more and more vulnerable.
These animals need to be protected so this is a call to action towards a sustainable future. Let these animals live to their fullest rather than destroy them.
FAQs: Top Longest-Living Bird Species
What’s the name of the longest-living bird in North America?
As of right now, Wisdom, a female Laysan Albatross who is 73 years old, is the longest-living bird in North America.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.