Ask Lafeber


October 23, 2019

Is my bird an exception

We bought our cockatiel April of 1982 Baby is still strong and alive. This makes him about 37 years old. Google says they live only 10 to 14 years. What gives.


Hi Thomas,

Congratulations on having a healthy and long lived bird! Baby is not technically an exception because cockatiels can live into their late 30’s and possibly longer. Since most pet’s ages are not well documented, the oldest confirmed cockatiel lived to 37 I believe, but again, that just means other bird’s ages could not be documented through vet care or other means. Because cockatiels are fairly easy to breed, and there are countless new mutations, the average life span in captivity is much lower. This is due to weak genetics – each mutation is based on a genetic flaw – also inbreeding – many breeders have bred closely related birds to achieve new mutations. Poor nutrition or overall care is the other reason for a shorter life span. A normal grey cockatiel is most likely to have the longer lifespan versus a mutation. But even a normal grey cockatiel bred these days is not as likely to live as long as Baby because he came from a time when captive breeding was still new and most breeders were imported birds with strong, pure genes. I hope Baby continues to thrive and is with you for many more years. Keep up the good care and don’t make any major changes in his life since whatever you have done has worked out for him.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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