Life Expectancy of Cockatoos (How Long Do Cockatoos Live)

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Exploring the lifespan of a cockatoo is not only intriguing but also vital for those who currently own or are thinking about getting these lively and charming birds. Cockatoos, renowned for their unique feather display and lively personalities, are popular among pet enthusiasts. 

However, owning a cockatoo involves a significant, lasting commitment due to their impressive lifespan, which can stretch over several decades. Various factors, such as diet, surroundings, and the quality of care, can influence a cockatoo’s lifespan. 

In their natural habitat, cockatoos typically live for 20 to 40 years, but with proper attention in captivity, they can live for 40-60 years, with some reaching nearly a century in age. 

Consequently, gaining insight into these influencing factors and their effects on a cockatoo’s life expectancy is crucial for those contemplating the delightful prospect of bringing these extraordinary birds into their homes.

Life Expectancy of Cockatoos

Cockatoo Lifespan in the Wild

In their natural habitats, the lifespan of cockatoos varies across different species. On average, these birds typically live for 20 to 40 years in the wild. The Sulphur-crested cockatoo, recognizable by its vibrant yellow crest, boasts a noteworthy lifespan, with some individuals enduring for several decades. Remarkably, certain specimens have even reached the impressive age of 100 when kept in captivity.

The White cockatoo, also referred to as the Umbrella cockatoo, has a less extensively documented lifespan. Nevertheless, reports from zoos suggest they may thrive for 40 to 60 years in captivity, although their lifespan in the wild could be slightly shorter by about ten years.

The Moluccan cockatoo, the largest among white cockatoos, shares a lifespan akin to humans, with many individuals living up to 65 years or more. It’s crucial to recognize that these lifespans are subject to various factors, including diet, environment, and the quality of care provided. In captivity, with optimal care, cockatoos have the potential to surpass the longevity of their wild counterparts significantly.

Cockatoo Lifespan in Captivity

In a captive environment, cockatoos generally have an average lifespan ranging from 50 to 70 years, and some have been known to reach almost a century in age. Here’s a breakdown of the lifespan for specific cockatoo species in captivity:

  1. Goffin’s Cockatoo: They typically live between 25 to 65 years, with the shortest recorded lifespan being around 25 years.
  2. Cockatiel: When domesticated and provided with careful care, cockatiels have a lifespan of approximately 20 to 25 years.
  3. Sulfur-crested Cockatoo: In captivity, they may thrive for over 40 years, and astonishingly, some have been documented living up to 100 years.
  4. White Cockatoo: According to some zoo reports, white cockatoos can live between 40 to 60 years in captivity.
  5. Moluccan Cockatoo: This largest among white cockatoos can live up to 70 years in captivity, with one documented case of a Moluccan cockatoo reaching the impressive age of 92 years.

Recognizing that these lifespans can be influenced by factors such as diet, environment, and the quality of care provided is crucial. With proper care, cockatoos in captivity can significantly surpass the lifespan of their counterparts in the wild.

Factors Affecting Cockatoo Lifespan

The lifespan of a cockatoo, whether in its natural habitat or in captivity, is influenced by various factors, encompassing diet and nutrition, veterinary care, health considerations, and environmental aspects.

Diet and Nutrition: Cockatoos necessitate a well-rounded diet to ensure their overall health and longevity. A nutritional regimen comprising carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and ample water is vital for their well-being. Notably, cockatoos are prone to issues like vitamin A deficiency, insufficient dietary calcium, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and other nutrition-related challenges. An overly reliant diet on seeds, particularly peanuts and sunflower seeds, can lead to problems such as obesity and heart disease due to their high fat and low calcium and vitamin A content. Opting for a diversified diet that includes pelleted bird food formulated to meet their nutritional needs is instrumental in promoting the health and longevity of a cockatoo.

Veterinary Care and Health Issues: Regular veterinary check-ups are paramount for maintaining a cockatoo’s health. These examinations serve to identify and address health issues early on, thereby contributing to an extended lifespan. Atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and vitamin A deficiency are among the health problems that can be detected and managed through routine veterinary care. Additionally, abrupt changes in a cockatoo’s behavior, such as biting, intense screaming, or feather destruction, may signal underlying medical concerns that necessitate prompt attention from a veterinarian.

Environmental Factors: The living environment significantly influences a cockatoo’s lifespan. In the wild, cockatoos contend with threats from predators and diseases that can curtail their lifespan. Conversely, in a domestic setting, these threats are mitigated, potentially contributing to a longer lifespan. However, domestic cockatoos thrive in an environment that stimulates them emotionally, offers engagement, and maintains good air quality. Adequate time outside their cages for exploration and exercise is also crucial. Without these elements, cockatoos may experience boredom and loneliness, leading to behavioral issues that could impact their overall health and lifespan.

Tips for Extending Cockatoo Lifespan

Promoting the longevity of a cockatoo involves meticulous attention to its diet, exercise routine, healthcare, and living environment.

Diet: A well-balanced diet is paramount for the health and extended lifespan of a cockatoo. Pelleted food formulated for birds should constitute approximately 75-80% of their diet. Although seeds and nuts are favorites, they should only make up a small portion due to their high-fat content and nutrient deficiencies. 

Including fresh fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, blueberries, and carrots, is crucial. Certain foods like avocado, chocolate, rhubarb, and alcohol should be avoided as they can be toxic. Transitioning from a seed-based to a pellet-based diet may require patience, but it is a vital step in ensuring the bird’s well-being.

Exercise: Regular exercise is integral to a cockatoo’s health. Allowing them at least 3 hours of out-of-cage time daily encourages wing flapping and overall physical activity. Toys, swings, climbing ropes, or nets in the cage contribute to exercise opportunities. Climbing structures, placed strategically from floor to play stands, further stimulate climbing, providing an excellent workout.

Healthcare: Routine veterinary check-ups are essential for cockatoos, encompassing physical examinations, grooming, and necessary laboratory tests. Regular grooming, including bathing, is crucial for their overall health.

Environment: The living environment significantly influences a cockatoo’s well-being and lifespan. A spacious cage, with a minimum size of 30 x 30 x 40 inches, allows the bird to move freely. Placing the cage in an active part of the home ensures the social interaction that cockatoos crave. The cage should be equipped with a variety of perches and toys to engage and comfort the bird, promoting both physical and mental well-being.


As a result, diet, veterinary care, and living conditions have a significant impact on the lifespan of a cockatoo. Diligent care in these areas is vital for ensuring the long and healthy lives of these extraordinary birds. Owning a cockatoo is a substantial commitment, given their potential lifespan of several decades, with some reaching nearly a century in captivity. 

Grasping the significance of proper care and the enduring commitment involved empowers potential and current cockatoo owners to create an optimal environment for their avian companions, fostering their well-being and a fulfilling life.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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