Longest Living Birds

Determining the age of a bird by its appearance can be challenging, especially once it has developed adult plumage. Scientists often use banding to estimate the lifespans of various avian species in the wild, but this method has limitations. It is typically performed only on adults and provides only partial accuracy. Moreover, many wild birds do not reach old age due to disease or predation.

Interestingly, several bird species live significantly longer in captivity, although exceptions do exist. Despite facing numerous threats in the wild, both natural and artificial, some birds manage to survive and live remarkably long lives.

Longest Living Birds

List of the Longest Living Birds in the Wild

Andean Condor

Lifespan: 50-70 years

The Andean Condor, a New World vulture from South America, is the world’s largest bird of prey. One reason for its impressive longevity is its lack of natural predators and resistance to harmful bacteria, allowing it to primarily feed on carrion. The longest-living Andean Condor on record was Thaao, who lived to the age of 79 at Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut.

California Condor

Lifespan: 50-60 years

The California Condor, naturally long-lived, faced extinction in its natural range due to several factors. These included late reproductive maturity, pairs rearing only one chick every few years, lead poisoning, and other external hazards. Thanks to extensive conservation efforts, it has been successfully reintroduced into the wild.

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Lifespan: 50-60 years

Also known as the Pink Cockatoo, this Australian native is one of the longest-lived parrots. As breeding pairs typically prefer to nest far apart, it has become increasingly difficult for these parrots to find places to breed due to their shrinking habitats. The longest-living confirmed member of this species was Cookie, who lived for 83 years at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

Laysan Albatross

Lifespan: 40-50 years

The Laysan Albatross, one of the most common albatrosses in the Hawaiian islands, is long-lived even compared to other albatrosses, which have generally long lifespans. The oldest known Laysan Albatross is a banded wild bird named Wisdom, who has lived for over 70 years.

Chilean Flamingo

Lifespan: 40-50 years

The Chilean Flamingo presents an intriguing case: while it typically enjoys a long lifespan in the wild, its longevity drastically declines in captivity.

American Flamingo

Lifespan: 40-50 years

Like most other flamingo species, the American Flamingo boasts a long lifespan. The longest-lived individual on record was Betty, who lived at the Smithsonian Zoo until she was 67 years old.

Black-footed Albatross

Lifespan: 40 years

The Black-footed Albatross is another bird known to live longer in the wild than in captivity. Despite the challenges of studying them in their natural habitat, there are documented records of individuals living even up to 60 years.

Green-winged Macaw

Lifespan: 35-40 years

Most macaws, including the Green-winged Macaw, are known for their long lifespan, which extends even longer in captivity under favorable conditions. For instance, Poncho, the longest-living individual, is nearing 100 years of age, a testament to the potential longevity of these birds in well-maintained environments.

Sooty Tern

Lifespan: 32-36 years

The Sooty Tern is sacred to Easter Island and is known to spend most of its time on the tropical oceans, only returning to land to breed. Despite its late sexual maturity, these birds typically live for over 30 years on average.

Greater Flamingo

Lifespan: 30-40 years

While not as long-lived as some other flamingo species mentioned here, the Greater Flamingo typically lives for over 30 years in the wild. Interestingly, its lifespan increases significantly in captivity, as was the case for Greater, who lived in the Adelaide Zoo until 2014.

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

Lifespan: 30-35 years

Macaws typically live around 30 years in the wild, but as pets, they can significantly exceed this lifespan. A notable example is Charlie, a macaw reportedly living for over 120 years. It was once believed that she belonged to Sir Winston Churchill between 1937 and 1965, although Churchill’s daughter later clarified that this was not true.

Great Frigatebird

Lifespan: 25-34 years

Determining the exact lifespan of the Great Frigatebird has been challenging. However, estimates suggest that specimens recovered on Tern Island have lived for about 30 years, providing some insight into their potential longevity.

Atlantic Puffin

Lifespan: 25-30 years

The Atlantic Puffin, named for its habitat over the Atlantic Ocean, thrives particularly around the Westman Islands in Iceland. While the longest-living specimen recorded is about 41 years old, this isn’t significantly different from others of its kind, which typically live close to 30 years.

Sulfur Crested Cockatoo

Lifespan: 20-40 years

These cockatoos, native to Australia, have become popular pets worldwide. Some individuals have been known to live in captivity for over 100 years, such as Cocky Bennett, who is believed to have lived till 120 years of age.

Bald Eagle

Lifespan: 20-30 years

While most eagles generally have shorter lifespans, the Bald Eagle can occasionally live up to 30 years in the wild. The longest-lived specimen is believed to have reached 38 years of age.

Sandhill Crane

Lifespan: 20-30 years

One of the most ancient species of cranes, with fossils dating back over 2 million years, these birds also boast a decently long lifespan. The oldest recorded specimen reached approximately 36 years of age.

Oldest Birds to Ever Live

These birds are among the oldest ever recorded, and most live in captivity, except for Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross.

Name of the Bird (and Species)Lifespan (years)
1.Cocky Bennett (Sulfur Crested Cockatoo)120
2.Charlie (Blue-and-Yellow Macaw)*120
3.Fred (Sulfur Crested Cockatoo)100
4.Poncho (Green-winged Macaw)*96
5.Greater (Greater Flamingo)83-95 (approx.)
6.Cookie (Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo)83
7.Thaao (Andean Condor)79
8.Wisdom (Laysan Albatross)*72
*last recorded age. These birds are still alive.

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