Pet birds with short lifespans

10 Pet Birds With Short Lifespans (Less Than 20 Years)

Avian creatures seem to defy both logic and biology when it comes to aging. They are somewhat of an exception to the rules that determine lifespan.

And it’s quite puzzling because they have a faster metabolism and higher normal blood sugar levels compared to mammals, which should practically shorten their lifespan. Yet, birds are among the longest-living creatures in the world. 

But sadly, this is also the reason why so many pet birds, particularly parrots are rehomed. Most people do not seem to be ready for such a long commitment and want something that they can more easily manage with their jobs and other daily obligations.

I’ve put together this list of the 10 best pet birds with short lifespans to help you decide which one might be right for you. For this list, I’ve only included birds that have a lifespan of less than 20 years.

Pet Birds That Don’t Live Long

Generally, the larger birds tend to live longer than the smaller ones. And in captivity, their lifespan can be even higher as they do not have the risk of predation and are supported with proper nutrition and care.

Large parrots like macaws can live a long life in captivity, some even reaching 80 years of age. But the small birds usually don’t live that long and in this feature, we’ll talk about the ones that have a lifespan of 20 years and less. 

  1. Budgerigar
  2. Button Quail
  3. Lorikeet
  4. Zebra Finch
  5. Canary
  6. Lilian’s lovebird
  7. Parrotlet
  8. Domesticated Pigeon
  9. Domestic Duck
  10. Chicken


Lively personalities paired with small-size, budgerigars are a favorite among parrot owners for their adorable looks and friendly demeanor. They are also among the birds that don’t live long.

Budgerigars have one of the shortest lifespans of pet birds. These birds have an average lifespan of only 6 years but in some cases, it may reach up to 10 years when they are taken good care of.

These birds are quite active and feisty but they are prone to a number of health problems.

They are particularly susceptible to mites infestation and bacterial infection which can significantly reduce their lifespan and affect their quality of life. So you need to be vigilant when caring for these birds.

Button Quail

Button quails are quite different from the usual pet birds in that they don’t fly as well and do not make much noise, making them perfect for apartments and families. 

They are easy to care for and only live for about 5 years. Male button quail usually live longer than females as they do not have to go through the strain of having to lay clutches of eggs. 

Male button quails do have the tendency to make constant crowing sounds but again, still a lot quieter than many of the other pet birds. 


The lory is a fun-loving bird species always ready for playtime and training. These colorful birds are easy to train and enjoy their time socializing with people. Lorikeets have an average lifespan of 10-20 years.

Because of their diet of perishable foods such as fruits and nectar, they are susceptible to bacterial infections. So it is important not to leave food around their cages for it to attract bacteria.  

Zebra Finch

Beautiful and melodious, the Zebra Finch usually lives up to 10 years. They have been kept as pets for more than 100 years now and are considered to be good beginner birds.

However, zebra finches are not the friendliest of birds. You can bond with them and teach them a few things but they are not highly trainable like parrots. 

If you decide to keep them as pets, you must also be aware of their prolific breeding nature and take appropriate measures to manage it.


The canary has a little longer life expectancy than the zebra finch at 10 to 12 years, but it is still much shorter than the average lifespan of other pet birds. 

Their life expectancy can be higher if they are provided with a suitable living environment and a healthy diet. The Guinness World Records reports the oldest canary to be 34 years of age.  

Lilian’s lovebird

Lovebirds in general live pretty long but this particular species of lovebird only has a lifespan of 10-12 years.

Lilian’s lovebird is rare species to be found in captivity due to difficulties in breeding, but it can be a great addition to your flock. 

It has a salmon pink head and crest and light green wing feathers that give it a beautiful look.

It is commonly believed that lovebirds can only live in pairs and alone they might feel lonely. But that is not true. Parrots in general are flock animals and need regular social interaction, but you can own them as single birds too. 


Parrotlets are one of the smallest living parrot species. They are mini-sized parrots that come in an array of colors and make great companions. Parrotlets, despite their small size live for 15-20 years.

It is often recommended to keep parrotlets as single birds because in pairs they bond very closely with each other and tend to show dominant behaviors where they ignore other birds and their owners.

Domesticated Pigeon

Known for their gentle demeanor and soft cooing, these birds can be your companion for 10-15 years. Pigeons had been kept as pets for years but in recent times this trend seems to have declined. 

In the wild or as city birds, pigeons do not live very long with most of them reaching the end of their life in about 5 years. 

But as house pets, pigeons can be around for longer than that, having your support and care. They can be good pets and you can also choose to adopt one.

Domestic Duck

Ducks are not long-living creatures unlike some of their other avian counterparts. The domestic duck, mallard has a lifespan of around 10-15 years.

Their friendly and feisty nature can keep you entertained for hours and their amusing calls should not bother anyone in your house as they’re not very loud.

Domestic ducks are also relatively low-maintenance and can be left to roam on their own around the house.


Like ducks, chickens make quite low-maintenance pet birds. They might be a little unconventional for some people but they can be just as fun as any other pet.

You can enjoy their company inside the house but usually, they like the outdoors. They should not be kept inside all the time as that might make them depressed, which can affect their lifespan.

The average lifespan of a chicken typically ranges from 5 to 10 years. However, there have been cases of chickens living much longer. In fact, the current world record for the longest-living chicken stands at an impressive 20 years.

Special Mentions

For this feature, I only wanted to list birds that live 20 years or under, but there are some that live longer than that age limit. I want to mention them separately and tell you why you still might want to consider them.


A cockatiel’s average life span is 12 to 15 years in the wild, however, as pets they can live up to 25 years. The oldest living cockatiel ever is reported to be 36 years old.

They are medium-sized birds with many qualities that you would want in your pet bird. Cockatiels are intelligent and social birds that are very active and eager to learn new things. 


Green-Cheeked Conure 

Conures are medium-sized parrot species with typically a long lifespan. Some of the species of conures even live as long as the larger birds like Macaws.

However, green cheek conures might be right for someone looking to own a bird with a short lifespan. Green cheek conure has a shorter lifespan than other conure species and only lives to about 25 years.

These birds like to be petted and tend to be quick learners though they may not be able to talk very fluently outside of a few simple words.

Rosy-Faced Lovebird

Rosy-faced lovebird, with a lifespan of around 15-25 years exceeds the age limit we had planned for this list. But this bird is considered for all the reasons that make it a wonderful pet. 

Its relatively long lifespan compared to other lovebirds only makes for a more rewarding relationship for its owners.

Rosy-faced lovebirds are playful and energetic birds that love attention from their owners.

Like parrotlets, rosy-faced lovebirds are best kept as single birds as they too can begin to lose connection with their owner when they’re with a cage mate.

What Determines The Lifespan In Pet Birds?

As bird owners, we all want our feathered companions to live long and healthy life. So while the expected lifespan of these birds may be less than others, there are several factors that may be within our control that can influence how long they live.


Providing a balanced and nutritious diet to your pet birds can help them live long life. Most pet birds are fed a subpar diet of seeds only, which can reduce their lifespan and also put them at risk of numerous diseases. So you should offer your birds healthy foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and pellets, along with treats.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups with an avian veterinarian can help detect health issues in time. This is especially important because birds tend to hide signs of illness, so preventive care is essential to maintaining their well-being.

Opportunities For Socialization

Most birds need social interaction and mental stimulation on a regular basis. So spending time with your bird has a positive effect on their mental health which consequently makes them healthy and happy overall.

This also includes recognizing any signs of stress or anxiety as birds can get emotionally down for many reasons and that may affect their physical well-being.

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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