As we get more and more familiar with birds, it is common that we start to wonder how long a bird can live? Will it live longer than humans or shorter? This blog can help you find the answer and get some basic knowledge about the lifespan of birds.

sparrow's life span

1. What's the lifespan of a bird?

In general, the lifespan of a bird depends largely on its size. Smaller birds tend to have shorter lifespans than larger birds. Small birds such as sparrows or hummingbirds may live only a few years, while large birds such as eagles or albatrosses live much longer. For example, common backyard birds such as sparrows or robins live about 2 to 5 years, hawks live an average of 8 to 20 years, eagles 20 to 25 years, and seabirds 30 to 50 years. Some parrot species have relatively long lifespans, with some individuals living for decades and some species even living to 70 to 80 years in captivity.

2. Why does a bird's life span depend on the size?

Metabolic rate

In general, smaller birds have higher metabolic rates than larger birds. Smaller birds need to feed more frequently to maintain energy levels, and increased metabolic activity can lead to accelerated aging and potentially shorter lifespans.

Predation risk

Smaller birds tend to be more vulnerable to predation than larger birds. In the wild, predation is important, and smaller birds are more susceptible to predation, resulting in a higher risk of a shorter average lifespan for smaller birds.

Predation risk

Breeding strategy

Breeding strategies for smaller birds usually differ from those of larger birds. Smaller birds have shorter generations and reach sexual maturity and reproduce at a younger age. This may affect their longevity, as species with faster reproductive cycles may have fewer resources allocated for individual survival.

Flight efficiency

Larger birds have more efficient flight mechanisms, travelling longer distances and covering larger areas, thus enabling them to access a wider range of resources. This helps to improve their ability to find food and avoid predators, thus potentially increasing their overall survival and longevity.

3. Factors Affecting Bird Lifespan

It is important to note that these are generalisations and that the lifespan of a particular bird is affected by factors such as habitat, predation, food availability and human influence. For example, the average lifespan of a warbler is three to six years, and the average lifespan of a hummingbird is nine years. In addition, lifespans of captive birds may differ from those of wild birds due to differences in environmental conditions and care. Some of the major factors affecting the lifespan of birds are discussed in the following sections.

Environmental stability

Factors such as climate, weather conditions, and the overall stability of an ecosystem can affect a bird's ability to survive. Birds tend to have a greater chance of survival and longer life spans in stable and suitable environments. Birds in harsh environments may have a lower chance of survival.

Food and water supply

Adequate food and a clean water supply are critical to the health and longevity of birds. The availability of suitable prey, seeds, and water sources can affect a bird's overall health.

birds eat seed

Different bird species

As we mentioned earlier, each bird species has its own life expectancy. Smaller birds usually have shorter lifespans, while larger birds tend to live longer. In addition, specific behaviours, breeding strategies and ecological niches can affect the lifespan of different species.

Genetic factors

Genetic factors, including a bird's body size and adaptations to specific habitats, affect lifespan. Birds with high environmental adaptations usually have higher survival rates.

Bird cage

Birds live much longer in captivity because they don't experience many of the risks associated with outdoor activities. They never lack food, should have no natural predators, and any illnesses or accidents involving injury or harm are usually dealt with quickly. For birds in captivity, the quality of the cage and the care provided by humans also have a significant impact on longevity. Birdfy offers high quality bird nest, which can give birds a cozy and comfortable place to rest.

birdfy nest

4. Relationship Between Bird Lifespan and Human Activities

The impact that human activities can have on the lifespan of birds is a double-edged sword, with both positive and negative effects.

Habitat destruction 

Human activities such as deforestation, urbanisation and agricultural expansion can lead to the destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats. This can negatively affect bird longevity by reducing suitable nesting sites, food sources and safe areas.


Pollution, including air and water pollution. Birds may ingest contaminated food or water sources, leading to health problems, reduced reproductive success, and overall shorter lifespans.

Climate Change

Human-induced climate change is altering ecosystems, such as the greenhouse effect caused by higher carbon dioxide emissions, and changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, and food availability can affect bird survival and longevity. Some bird species face significant challenges in adapting to rapidly changing environments.

Hunting and poaching

Unrestricted hunting and poaching can have serious consequences for bird populations. Overhunting of birds for their beautiful feathers or for the pet trade will lead to a reduction in the number and lifespan of bird species.

Hunting and poaching birds


On the positive side, human activities also contribute to bird conservation efforts. Conservation measures, habitat restoration projects and the establishment of protected areas help to mitigate the negative impacts of human activities, provide safe spaces for bird populations and improve their living conditions.

Artificial nesting

Some human activities, such as the installation of bird feeders, can have a positive impact on bird populations. Providing additional nesting and foraging resources for birds has the potential to improve the overall health and longevity of certain species.

5. Insights from Bird Lifespan

After having the above information about the life span of birds, you might want to know which bird has the longest life span? And what about the shortest one?

Longest Lifespan

Albatrosses are known to be among the longest-lived birds. This is especially true of the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans), a large seabird that can live for decades, with some individuals even living to be over 50 years old. One of the reasons for their long lifespan is because albatrosses typically have a low reproductive rate, and they need to devote a lot of time to raising their young.

Diomedea exulans

Shortest Lifespan

Among the shorter-lived birds, small songbirds like the common house finch are known for their relatively short lives. In the wild, house finches typically live two to five years. Factors such as predation, environmental hazards, and the challenges of surviving in urban environments can contribute to the fact that they may live less than two years.

6. Conclusion

The lifespan of birds varies according to size, species and environment. Smaller birds can live for a few years and larger birds for decades, such as parrots that can live to be 70-80 years old in captivity. Habitat, food, genetics and human care all affect lifespan. Birds are affected by both positive human activities (conservation) and negative activities (habitat destruction, pollution). Albatrosses, such as the Wandering Albatross, can live for more than 50 years, whereas small songbirds, such as the House Sparrow, only live for 2 to 5 years.


March 14, 2024 — Stella Huang

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