Cockatiel Lifespan – How Long Do Cockatiels Live?

cockatiel lifespan

Cockatiel lifespan can vary quite a bit between wild cockatiels and domestic (pet) cockatiels.

In fact, research shows that the cockatiel life expectancy can be extended by a decade or more with a little help from you, your cockatiel’s owner!

Learning more about how long do cockatiels live in captivity and your part in that can help you make sure your precious pet lives the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible!

What is the life expectancy of a cockatiel?

After the parakeet (budgerigar), the cockatiel is the most popular pet bird.

These loving, loyal and affectionate birds tend to bond very closely with “their” people and the reverse is often just as true!

So it just makes sense that you want to make sure the cockatiel lifespan in captivity is as long as possible!

In the wild, a cockatiel may live anywhere from 10 to 14 years.

Contrast that with cockatiel lifespan in captivity, which can be anywhere from 15 to 25 years.

But the best news is that pet cockatiels have been known to live as long as 35 years.

As of 2015, the Guinness Book of World Record’s “oldest pet cockatiel” title holder, Sammy, is 31!

Nutrition and the cockatiel lifespan

There are several possible ways to extend the average lifespan of a cockatiel in captivity.

One of the most fundamental methods is often also the most frequently overlooked according to avian veterinarians, and that is nutrition.

Avian and exotic veterinary medicine has come a long way over the last decade.

Today, most vets know that cockatiels won’t get all their nutritional needs met by eating a diet of bird seed.

However, many cockatiel owners still don’t know this.

In the wild, cockatiels do eat seeds whenever possible, but they also forage for grasses, fruits and even small insects.

Their diet can be considerably varied depending on what food sources are available from day to day.

Wild cockatiels also get more access to ultraviolet light, which can help them produce the calcium they need to grow strong bones.

Food for thought

The best diet for pet cockatiels should be varied to include fruits, berries, fresh grasses, whole grains, lean protein and also some seeds.

Pelleted foods are also becoming popular as a balanced source of whole and complete nutrition for cockatiels.

However it can sometimes be challenging to transition adult cockatiels over to a pelleted diet!

Veterinarians state that as many as 99 percent of premature cockatiel deaths may arise as a result of nutritional deficiencies.

So choosing the right diet is one of the most important methods for prolonging the average life of a cockatiel.

The recipe for a long cockatiel lifespan

Aim for 75% to 80%  pelleted food daily, with 20% to 25% coming from fresh fruits and veggies.

The remaining 5% should be lean protein sources like hard-boiled eggs, lean cooked chicken or fish.

Talk with your veterinarian to ensure you only offer safe “people” foods to your pet cockatiel!

Fresh water should always be available to your cockatiel, preferably in a water bottle since cockatiels may take a dip (or a poop) in a water dish!

Maximizing cockatiel bird lifespan

In addition to diet, there are several other methods that can potentially extend the pet cockatiel lifespan.


Cockatiels in the wild are constantly on the move.

They are very social and travel in large groups, eating and drinking and communicating and migrating and rearing their young together.

There is safety in numbers and never a dull moment.

Make your cockatiel’s environment fun and engaging by providing a suitable cage environment with several different types of perches and cockatiel toys.

A good view of the outdoors and occasional noise from a radio or TV can calm and soothe your pet cockatiel and guard against boredom.


Cockatiels need at least eight hours of rest each night in addition to the several naps you may observe your bird taking during the day.

Be sure to locate the cage in a quiet, darkened area of the house and cover the cage to block drafts so your bird can sleep and rest comfortably.

Preventative veterinary care

Cockatiels, like most animals, are experts at hiding it when they feel unwell, which is a necessary survival skill in the wild.

Pet cockatiels have specialized medical care needs that most general practice veterinarians are not trained to provide.

Your pet cockatiel should have an annual wellness check-up with a trained avian veterinary specialist who can quickly spot any “hidden” health issues before they become serious.

How long do cockatiels live?

So now you and your cockatiel have a new goal to work towards together – breaking Sammy the cockatiel’s record as “longest living cockatiel!”

How old is your precious feathered pet? Drop us a comment – we’d love to hear your story!


Newmyer, B., “Nymphicus hollandicus: Information,” Animal Diversity University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, 2014.

Young, A., et al, “Survival on the ark: life history trends in captive parrots,” Journal of Animal Conservation, 2013.

Djinis, E., “World’s Oldest Cockatiel Lives in St. Pete’s Beach,” Tampa Bay Times, 2015.

Hoppes, S., DVM, AVBP, et al, “Geriatric Diseases of Pet Birds,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2018.

Axelson, R., DVM, “Cockatiels – Feeding,” VCA Animal Hospital, 2009.

Jeffels, W., DVM, et al, “Cockatiel Care Sheet,” Shires Vets, 2018.


  1. Our cockatiel, Penny, is 21. She was hand-raised as a hatchling and very tame when she came into our home in early 1998. Our two adult children barely remember the time before she was part of our family. She is very much alive, constantly chirping and whistling the tunes she learned over the years. She’s a bit obese now and prefers to hang out in her cage most of the time, but she gets a lot of love and attention. We hope she breaks the record of longevity for a cockatiel.

    FWIW, I think that Guinness cockatiel longevity record holder Sammy is not the true record holder by far. I’ve heard of cockatiels living past 35. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone out there has a healthy cockatiel older than 40.

  2. Our Cockatiel will be 31, this January. His name is Rosco. He is set in his ways. My wife’s father got him from a pet store, that told him that Rosco was brought back three times, before his home presently.

  3. My eldest Cockatiel is Cassiopeia Isabella. We found her at the last of the pet and hobby shows held at the RNA grounds in Brisbane & she was the second bird I ever purchased. Cassiopeia is now 25 years & 8 months and has lost the power of flight. To give her the best chance of coping, she now resides in her own space alongside the boys in the aviary (where she doesn’t have to compete for food or water) and comes in each night for her personal neck rubs ! She has always been the liveliest and most dominant of my flock. In the earliest days she learnt the circuit around the kitchen out through the living room and back down the entry, and usually did a few laps of an evening before settling down on my shoulder for neck rubs. when we graduated to an outdoor aviary she quickly taught the boys her own whistle, and to repeat the words she liked to hear “Cassie is a pretty girl, Pretty Pretty Pretty, Hello Cassie” I have always fed my birds a mixture of seed, pellets and fresh veggies daily, along with a vitamin treated water, and they have enough room to make short flights.

  4. My cockatiel, Shadow, will be 27 in October 2020. I’ve had her since she was an egg laid by my pair of adopted cockatiels. Her brother from the same clutch lived to 25. She doesn’t fly anymore either but still loves her head scratches.

  5. Our little one just passed away!!. Since our best Aviary Vet was back in California, moving to this small town in Illinois restricted visits to a qualified Avian Vet. He seemed fine, and all of a sudden, didn’t like his mix of nutrition bits and seeds. Changed water a lot, because of poops in it lately. He was On the bottom of his cage, and wasn’t climbing back On his perches. No bell ringing. His beak was slightly split?. Lack of diet? Never gave him meat, or fish. Just the burritos for Cocatiels, and seed. Has been using bird beak stone before?. Sad time here.

  6. My Buzz just turned 20 today (December 9, 2020). Happy Birthday Buzzy! He shares an aviary with 3 other cockatiels who are also up there in age. Neo is 17, Taxi is 16 and Calypso is 12. He doesn’t care to come out of his cage much – he’s a bit of a grump and prefers the company of our only girl in the group (Taxi) but he still sings to his favorite toys and fights with his bell. He gets around like a bird half his age and I won’t be a bit surprised if he’s around for another decade. I just love my grumpy old man!

  7. Hi our little friend is called Paulie, he is I think 24 years old, he us the funniest bird, loves to be covered after we chat and eats a cracker, we cover him and he starts singing and says ” hello paulie” quite the character.

  8. I am excited to be getting my first Cocketeil of my life time. I don’t know if its a boy or a girl. It was abandoned in its Cage and the Landlord placed an ad for someone to come get this bird, he did not want it.
    So I am driving 100 miles tomorrow to pick this Bird up. It look like a Mature Bird in the Picture, but his little Cage is filthy and shambles. He will like living with me. I have been a Ringneck Parakeet owner for years and really look forward to a Change.

  9. Our cockatiel, Sir Wendel, is now 26. He used to fly around the kitchen and living area until about 4 years ago when he fell awkwardly; since then he stays mostly in his cage, happily talking and fighting with his toys, but still also coming out on my finger when he feels like it. He has always been a bit grumpy! He would be a great advertisement for Hagen because their cockatiel seed mix is basically all he ever eats. I used to feed him apples and oranges when he was younger, and he would share our breakfast porridge, toast or eggs while sitting on his table perch, but now he really pretty much stays in his cage.

  10. My china just turned 22 his mate butterball passed when she was 14..I’ve tried to get him to eat veggies & fruit & hard boiled egg…he doesn’t like pasta or green beans or egg..but he loves broccoli, carrots & strawberries..

  11. My cockatiel, Puff is 20. He lost some flight feathers in a 4.6 earthquake in 2014, I live in California, so he can’t fly now, but he climbers and walks in his cage and on my chest.I am retired and just rent a room, so not too much space, but a lot of time with mommy.

  12. My friend’s cockatiel is 37 years old. Her name is “Aloha.” She lives in Hawaii. The 2015 Guinness World Records of the oldest cockatiel was 31. I’ll see if she’s interested in entering the Guinness record.

  13. Our cockatiel “Peaches” is 24 years old. We only fed him the generic cocktail seed mix until just a few years ago when my husband gave him a mix of foods off our dinner plate. Peaches went crazy over the meat, which I was super surprised. Now we give him food off our plate every day after double checking online if it is all right.(no avocados). Peaches is a very happy bird and now lets my husband know, in no uncertain terms, that he wants to share meals with us.

  14. My best friend, Professor, just had his 18th birthday on Christmas Day. He is quite healthy, and very spoiled. I give him fresh water three to four times a day, and his diet consists of bird seed (probably 15-20%), spray millet which I replace about once a week, Lafeber’s Nutri-Berries which he just loves (contains seeds, grains, protein, fiber and other healthy goodies). He also loves cereal, when I have my breakfast; Fiber-One, Vanilla and Almond Special K, Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. He really enjoys chopped turkey or chicken, grated mild cheddar cheese, finely chopped carrots and assorted fruits. I told you he was spoiled!
    I look forward to as many years as we have together. One of his favorite things is he’ll climb onto my shoulder and he turns 180 degrees and backs down on my chest for me to scratch his head. If I ignore him for about ten seconds he bumps my chin with his head until I “pay attention to him”. It’s just a real joy to have him as my best friend.

  15. Our sweet Buddy is 36. We got him for our daughters 6th birthday. She’s 42. I hand fed him as a hatchling, in pin feathers. He currently shares his very large cage with a mourning dove who I also hand fed. He is truly the most adorable bird ever. He fills our house with his singing!


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