Ask Lafeber


December 14, 2020

Age of parrots

I have a rescued Sulphur Crested Cockatoo so I don’t know his history. But I’ve been surprised that there’s no way to age them?! Any thoughts?


Hi Tina,

Yes, generally speaking there is no way to determine the age of a parrot once it is fully mature. In some species, coloration will continue to develop with age, such as some Amazons getting more color on their heads and necks. Blue Crown conures have changes in foot color – the older they get, the more orange their feet become. With many of the female cockatoo species, the eye color starts out dark, but as they get older the eye changes to brown, then reddish brown, and then red. Most parrot species start with dark eyes that get lighter with age – some turn very light, some turn yellow, some turn orange. However, for the most part any obvious physical changes like this stop when the bird reached full maturity. Extremely old parrots can develop arthritis and cataracts, yet these issues can also affect younger birds. I personally have a Goffin’s cockatoo that can be traced back to being wild caught sometime in the 70’s, but his age at the time is unknown. We just had someone write about their Goffin’s who was wild caught in the same time period, and she just laid an egg for the first time. Dr. Lamb has talked about older parrots laying eggs at 40 – 50 years old. So age remains a mystery and possibly always will when it comes to parrots. The good news is that as long as the bird is on a nutritionally balanced diet, receives good Vet care and gets exercise in and out of the cage, he is not likely to suffer any age related issues until the very late years of his life.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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