Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Not that you asked...

Ever wonder how long birds can live? Many wild birds have surprisingly short lives. Some, though, have life spans that nearly equal humans.

The first year is the most difficult for birds. Quail, for example, have an 80% mortality rate in their first year. That means out of every 10 quail hatched, only 2 will be alive for their first breeding season.

Birds that are well-cared for in captivity, like the ones at RAPTOR, Inc., can have a much longer life that wild birds. Sometimes captive birds can have disorders or diseases that rarely occur in the wild (cataracts, cancer, etc) simply because birds in the wild don't live long enough to exhibit these problems.

I have an interesting list to share with all of you. A list of birds and their approximate maximum ages. A lot of the average ages are guesswork, but the known life spans, as in banded individuals and captive birds, are really amazing.
*Note that it is very difficult to determine the average life span and in some birds, such as American goldfinches, males and females may have different average life spans (male goldfinches usually live longer than females).

I've highlighted some of the ages that really blow me away:

Species

Life span in captivity (in years)

Average

after 1st year

(in years)

Life span in the wild

(max. known years)

Snow goose

?

15+

27 yrs. 6 mos.

Trumpeter swan

32.5

24

24+

Mallard

?

4

29 yrs. 1 mo.

California quail

?

?

6 yrs. 11 mos.

Laysan albatross

?

30+

50 yrs. 8 mos.

American white pelican

?

13+

31 yrs. 6 mos.

Great blue heron

?

?

24 yrs. 6 mos.

Turkey vulture

43

?

17+

Osprey

?

11-12

26 yrs. 2 mos.

White-tailed kite

?

?

5 yrs. 11 mos.

Bald eagle

54

?

30 yrs. 9 mos.

Northern harrier

?

16

16 yrs. 5 mos.

Sharp-shinned hawk

?

~ 3

19 yrs. 11 mos.

Cooper’s hawk

?

9

20 yrs. 4 mos.

Northern goshawk

?

?

16 yrs. 4mos.

Red-shouldered hawk

?

3 +

19 yrs. 11 mos.

Swainson’s hawk

?

8

19 yrs. 7 mos.

Ferruginous hawk

?

?

23 yrs. 8 mos.

Rough-legged hawk

?

?

20 +

Golden eagle

52

3-7

28 yrs. 4 mos.

American kestrel

14

5

14 yrs. 8 mos.

Merlin

?

3

11 yrs. 11 mos.

Peregrine falcon

25

6-10

20 yrs.

Prairie falcon

?

2.5 – 5

17 yrs. 3 mos.

Sandhill crane

?

7

31 yrs. 3 mos.

Barn owl

35

<>

34 yrs.

Western screech-owl

19

2-3

13 yrs.

Great horned owl

45

?

28 yrs. 8 mos.

Snowy owl

28

?

16 yrs. 9 mos.

Northern pygmy-owl

?

?

?

Burrowing owl

?

?

9 yrs.

Spotted owl

25 +

?

30 +

Barred owl

?

?

18 yrs. 2 mos.

Great gray owl

?

?

13 +

Long-eared owl

?

?

27 yrs. 9 mos.

Short-eared owl

?

?

12 yrs. 9 mos.

Northern saw-whet owl

16

?

10 yrs. 4 mos.

Broad-tailed hummingbird

?

<>

12 yrs. 2 mos.

Downy woodpecker

?

?

11 yrs. 11 mos.

Pileated woodpecker

?

?

12 yrs. 11 mos.

Western scrub-jay

?

3

15 yrs. 9 mos.

American crow

?

?

14 yrs. 7 mos.

Common raven

80

?

17 yrs. 2 mos.

Yellow warbler

?

?

10 yrs. 11 mos.

Spotted towhee

?

2

10 yrs. 8 mos.

Song sparrow

?

1 – 3

11 yrs. 4 mos.

Brewer’s blackbird

?

?

12 yrs. 6 mos.

American goldfinch

?

5

10 yrs. 5 mos.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Most of this information comes in part from:

Birds of North America Online

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory

International Species Information System


Thanks to Cindy, the Bird Care Director at RAPTOR, for this list!

5 comments:

nina said...

Very interesting details.
Always breaks my heart to see a duck standing by his no longer living mate at the road's edge. It's not as if their lives are temporary--they have seasons and seasons to be here.

dguzman said...

Great post, Susan. I didn't know so many birds lived for soooo long!

Nina's comment is making my cry.

Dave said...

Great post Susan and thanks for the list. You have a Cindy for your director also? LOL!

mon@rch said...

Very cool for sure! I think this is much easier to use than what I go through at the Bird Banding Lab. I will be sure to book mark your site! Missing your camera?

Mary said...

Someone told me a Bald Eagle can live up to 40 years and I laughed.

These are awesome stats, Susan. I'm shocked and amazed. I had no idea...