aging birds

5 Tips For A Happier, Healthier Older Bird

You've taken excellent care of your pet bird, ensuring that they're as happy as possible each day. But now as they start to age, you have questions about caring for them well. Here are answers to some common questions about caring for an aging bird from those who have been there before.
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Yes, older birds can be very happy and healthy, but their needs change as they age. Learning what changes to expect as your bird ages and what steps you can take to keep them happy and healthy is important.

You’ve had your birdy friend with you for many years now, but he or she isn’t as young as they used to be. Birds tend to live much longer than other pets do.

When we hear that some parrots living up to 100 years we forget that most pets don't live that long! By the time that they reach middle age, they are showing signs of wear and tear. For most bird's that at 10 to 20 years of age.

That’s why caring for your aging bird is so important, especially if you want them to enjoy those extra years with you. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your older bird feeling young and happy even as the years go by...but you have to know what you’re doing!

How long do parrots live as pets?

Ever wonder how long birds live? If you're planning on getting a new feathered friend make sure you're prepared by learning about how long these breeds of pet birds typically live and which ones live longest. This way you can set realistic expectations for your new pet's life. For example, even though Budgies and Cockatiels only live about 20 years on average, Amazons and Macaws have one of the longest lifespans with about 50 years of life expectancy. Check out our bird aging chart. You can expect your bird to start showing signs of aging at about mid-life.


Average Lifespan

Middle Age

African Grey Parrots

40 - 50 years

20 - 25 years

Amazon Parrots

50 years

25 years


20 years

10 years


15 years

7 years


20 years

10 years


65+ years

35+ years


30 years

15 years


20 years

10 years


15 years

7 years


20 years

10 years


60 years

30 years


20 years

10 years


It's important to understand that these are only estimations. The average life expectancy of a bird varies depending on several factors, such as genetics, diet, exercise, stress levels, and avoiding toxins. Even within the same species, there may be large variation between individuals' life spans and day-to-day functions as they enter a variety of life stages throughout the course of their lives.

How do I know if my parrot is getting old?

 It’s hard to tell if your bird is old just by looking at her. Many older birds have less vibrant feathers or may have reduced , but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be perfectly healthy and vibrant.

One of the easiest ways to know if your bird is aging is to check her age! Different species have different lifespans. As a general rule, larger parrots, like Scarlett Macaws and Moluccan Cockatoo's live longer. Some of these well-cared for large parrots can live up to 100 years!

Medium parrots like African Grey's and Amazon's live into their 50's while small birds, like cockatiels, lovebirds, and budgies live to their 20's.

Just like people, a bird that has experienced trauma, poor care, and poor nutrition often experience shorter life spans.  Sadly, poor diets decrease the life-span of too many birds. 

Since our birds are masters at hiding their illnesses, injuries, and pain, we need to rely on routine veterinary wellness exams to catch avian disease in its early stages.

Here are some other symptoms to be on the look out for -

Decreased Interactions: You need to watch how much interaction your bird has with others, how often they groom themselves, and how often they interact with you.

Guarding Behavior: With aging comes guard behavior. Your pet changes postures so as not to make them uncomfortable or so as not to show how bad they are feeling.

Increasing aggression against other birds in the flock or their owners, in the hope that we don’t find out they are feeling unwell.

Over-grooming: Behavioral problems include excessive grooming or plucking at painful sites.

Pain is our bodies way of telling us that something is wrong, and parrots are no different. But, how can you tell that your bird is experiencing pain if it is instinctually programmed to hide its pain? Take the Pain Assessment In Birds Quiz.

What are the physical symptoms of an aging bird?

As your pet ages, you may notice her becoming less active. Birds aren’t usually as spry in their old age as they were when they were young. This can be due to arthritis or just overall weakening of muscles and bones. Birds who have been extremely active throughout their lives may have trouble adjusting to what seems like so much lethargy—it’s important to remember that these birds are getting older and will likely not recover from these "bouts of laziness" any time soon.

Annual wellness exams are important so diseases are caught earlier!

Avian Arthritis

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual on the lookout for these health issues:

Cataracts and other eye problems are common among older parrots! Eye disease will make them depressed, inactive, and refusing to come out of their cages.

Arthritis affects nearly all large parrots in some form, but if you have noticed one or more of these symptoms you should have them checked by a veterinarian.

Birds may be less active or they may not be perching normally.
Some even fall off perches. Swollen or warm joints, feather picking or mutilation, or excessive screaming may also be a sign that your bird is having arthritic pain.

Prolonged perching on one spot for too long causes our birds a lot of foot problems. A common issue in elderly birds is Pododermatitis. All of this inactivity may also lead to heart disease.

Then, of course, liver and kidney problems are common in elderly birds.

How can I make my parrot live longer? 

Assuming you've been routinely monitoring your bird's health for disease like the ones listed above, you'll start to notice subtle differences in your bird's behavior "early on," which is when a full recovery is most likely.

Your annual wellness check-up may seem like just another trip to the vet. However, it has benefits you won't find anywhere else! Your vet will go over your animal with a fine-tooth comb and give it a once-over. This will allow them to identify any signs of disease earlier on.

Whether it's due to decades of a bad diet, it's time to take some steps towards living a healthier lifestyle by following these four tips:

Making one wellness improvement a week a priority. I'm not trying to scare you, but your bird's health and happiness depend on it.

People always ask me What should I feed my pet bird? Well, I'm going to give you 3 reasons why a well-balanced diet is necessary to help your bird heal. A healthy mix of premium bird pellets and a nutritious raw food diet will boost your bird's health. 


What if your bird won't eat veggies? Model it for them! Bird's don't have a great sense of taste or smell. They do have a strong instinct to only eat what they've been shown to be safe. Have you ever wondered why your bird begs for what you're eating? You're showing them that it's safe.

There are lots of toxic plants in the rainforest where your bird is from. Mom and dad literally have to show them what's safe to eat. You need to show your bird what's safe to eat. Here's a video to show you how to get your bird to eat raw foods.


Birdies need exercise too! To start, get moving and get fit. Set up foraging stations to encourage movement and climbing. Encourage play, climbing, and if possible, flying. Dance with your bird!


Learn about the simple ways to reduce your bird's stress and allow them to have more fun. Every time your bird experiences physical or emotional stress, it takes its toll on them.

Physical stress can be caused by pain, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins. Emotional stress can be caused by lack of enrichment, boredom, and lack of training. Make it a point to offer up short Clicker training for birds sessions every day to improve your birds emotional well-being.

In conclusion, I hope that these tips will help you as you care for your aging parrot. Keeping your bird happy and healthy is not only rewarding; it’s vital to her wellbeing! These are just five simple tips to help with general upkeep as your bird ages. There are many other ways you can keep up with regular checkups and screenings to monitor your pet’s progress.

Related Posts:

What Is Bird Arthritis And How Does It Affect Your Bird

5 Important Things To Know When Your Senior Bird Starts Plucking

Parrot Heart Disease


The Merck Veterinary Manual

Watch Dr Paul Bird, rheumatologist,... - Arthritis Australia

Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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