How Long Do Birds Live?

Life Expectancy of Birds

Live long and prosper. For small songbirds, that might be seven years!

A songbird in the wild has less than a 50% chance of surviving more than two years. However, if a young bird can survive accidents, disease, predation, migration, and winter starvation, it may live a surprisingly long time.

As a general rule, larger birds tend to live longer. It also helps to be at the top of the food chain.

A Laysan Albatross has survived 42 years and 5 months in the wild. Parrots in captivity have been known to live over 80 years!

Here are some of the records for longevity. These are certainly not average life expectancy -- these are the all time records! These figures are based on the recapture of banded birds. The life of the bird at the time of death is shown in years and months:

Common Loon 12-11
Laysan Albatross 42-05
Brown Pelican 27-10
Anhinga 11-11
Great Blue Heron 23-03
Green Heron 07-11
Mute Swan 26-09
Canada Goose 28-05
Mallard 26-04
Osprey 26-02
Red-tailed Hawk 25-09
American Kestrel 13-07
Northern Bobwhite 06-05
Whooping Crane 18-10
Killdeer 10-11
Herring Gull 28-00
Common Tern 25-00
Elf Owl 04-11
Great Horned Owl 27-07
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 09-01
Downy Woodpecker 11-11
Hairy Woodpecker 15-10
Red-eyed Vireo 10-00
Blue Jay 17-06
American Crow 14-07
Purple Martin 13-09
Carolina Chickadee 10-11
House Wren 09-00
Eastern Bluebird 10-05
Western Bluebird 05-01
American Robin 13-11
Northern Mockingbird 14-10
Yellow Warbler 09-11
Song Sparrow 11-04
Northern Cardinal 15-09
Western Meadowlark 06-06
Red-winged Blackbird 15-09
House Sparrow 13-04


The Sibley Guide to Birds (second edition) is my favorite field guide for the U.S. and Canada.  National Geographic's Birds of North America is the top-selling book in Amazon's Ornithology section. Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of North America belongs in every birder's library.
This Razor HD 10x42 is the binocular to get if you want superb quality and amazing views of the birds. I like this mid-priced Viper HD 10x42 for overall quality and value. If you already own a $2,400 Swarovski EL 10x42 then this is a great second pair. The Diamondback 10x42 is the ideal binocular for new birders. These feel great  and have very good optics.
If you love hummingbirds then you MUST have 2 to 4 of these in your yard. Fill with one part sugar and four parts water. Goldfinches LOVE Niger (Thistle) seed. Attract these colorful yellow birds to your yard. Very high quality feeder. This rugged Sunflower seed feeder will attract Cardinals from miles around! Easy to clean too.


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