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.