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How Long Do Garden Birds Live For?

House Sparrows

Many people who enjoy the birds that visit their garden are delighted when the same ones seem to return year after year. However, although it’s a nice idea, it’s unlikely that they are the same birds.

Most garden birds only live for between 2 and 5 years, with many not even surviving their first year. Hatchlings and nestlings are particularly vulnerable to predators, lack of food, and poor weather.

Generally, larger birds tend to have a greater life expectancy so to compensate small birds often lay large clutches of eggs. For example, blue tits lay between 8 and 10 eggs each year but only 37% make it through the first year.

Once a bird reaches breeding age it has a better chance of survival, although the odds still aren’t great. Only 56% of adult blue tits survive each year, so although the maximum age of a blue tit found in the wild is nearly 10 years, the typical lifespan is just 3 years.

Typical lifespan
Breeding age
Maximum age from ringing
Blackbird
3 years
1 year
15 years 2 months
Blue tit
3 years
1 year
9 years 9 months
Bullfinch
2 years
1 year
9 years 2months
Chaffinch
3 years
1 year
13 years 11 months
Collared dove
3 years
1 year
15 years 3 months
Dunnock
2 years
1 year
10 years 7 months
Goldfinch
2 years
1 year
10 years 0 months
Great spotted woodpecker
Unknown
Unknown
11 years 10 months
Great tit
3 years
1 year
10 years 5 months
House sparrow
3 years
1 year
12 years 8 months
Jackdaw
5 years
2 years
19 years 5 months
Jay
4 years
2 years
16 years 9 months
Long-tailed tit
2 years
1 year
8 years 11 months
Magpie
5 years
2 years
21 years 8 months
Robin
2 years
1 year
8 years 4 months
Song thrush
3 years
1 year
11 years 0 months
Starling
5 years
2 years
17 years 7 months
Wood pigeon
3 years
1 year
17 years 8 months
Wren
2 years
1 year
7 years 3 months

7 Responses

  1. For about month the tit population are coming backwards and forwards like Piccadilly station we have to fill up our bird table at least 3 times a day with sunflower seeds, mealworms and nuts. We have our bird table on our French door and have noticed a pecking order blue tits, then great tits finally the coal tits sometimes a robin muscles in and gets angry if someone else wants a go. It is very relaxing watching the birds and it can be comical the way they act.

  2. I assume the reason for a life span of only 2- 3, wth a few at 5 years is the
    environment. ie food supply, water, other 4 legged preditors.

  3. Seems like a very informative website! Looking forward to more interesting facts on birds. Thank you!

  4. There is no better sight than a pair of tits on your nut sack in the morning, so keep feeding them beautiful creatures.

  5. Great statistical information thank you, though distressing to see that such beautiful little birds have such a short lifespan. The table above encores me to keep feeding my garden birds, especially those at our static caravan on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park near Conway. I am thrilled to have nuthatches; blue; coal; great and long-tailed tits; blackcap; Robin; dunnock and great spotted woodpecker visiting regularly this morning.

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