How long do birds live?

Veteran member and bird ringer Mike Ford did some research on the most frequent question being asked: How long do birds live?

He looked up the longevity records for a few species in the SAFRING database for birds ringed and re-captured later. This does not fully represent the actual life-span of the bird – as it is released again after re-capture to continue on for how many more days, months or years, and as very few birds live to their full age potential, due to predation, disease, parasites etc.  But it does illustrate the longest intervals between first capture and last re-capture. To make things a bit less open-ended he searched for longevity records for birds first ringed as juveniles.

The initial samples revealed the following: Southern Double-collared Sunbird 9.9 years; Cape Sparrow 10.67 years; Cape Sugarbird 14.63 years; Common Thick-knee 21.67 years; Cape Gannet 33.23 years

There appears to be a correlation between size and longevity, and Mike intends to draw some more samples to see if this is valid across the board.

2 comments on “How long do birds live?

  1. For Info!

    Helen and I picked up a Cape Cormorant on the beach at Yserfontein some years ago. It had a ring which said – Send to Pretoria Zoo – which we did.

    Several months passed and then we received a computer printout from UCT giving all sorts of details pertaining to the bird. It had been ringed as a chick on Dassen Island and was 18 years old. There was no indication as to why it had died.

    Cheers Mike Mac Naught

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