How to Translate Your Bird's Age Into Human Years

Large and Small Birds Differ in Lifespans

White Umbrella Cockatoos Perching On Wood
Tannie Teh / EyeEm / Getty Images

You may know how old your bird is, but wonder how that relates to its maturity and lifespan in human terms. You may be familiar with judging a dog's age in dog years or a cat's in cat years to relate them to human lifespans. These don't apply easily to birds.

The general rule of thumb about how companion parrots age is this that the larger the bird, the longer the lifespan. 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.

Longer and Shorter Pet Bird Lifespans

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.

Smaller species don't have as long a lifespan 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 human 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.

Umbrella Cockatoo Example

An umbrella cockatoo, if all goes well, could end up living for many, many decades or even longer. If your cockatoo is 3 years old, that is likely to relate well to its maturity in comparison to human 3-year-olds. Physically, this bird would be 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

Caring for Your Pet Bird to Achieve a Long Life

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. Be aware that an all-seed diet is dangerous and unhealthy, so this is not at all recommended.

You should also plan a 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 tend to have shorter lifespans on average, much like their human counterparts who don't get enough exercise.

Take care of your bird as well as you (hopefully) take care of yourself. You should be rewarded with a happy and healthy pet that is able to meet or even exceed the average expected lifespans for its species.