How long do parrots live?

When most people adopt an animal, they usually aren’t planning on a decades-long commitment. Yet when it comes to adopting a parrot, that’s often exactly what’s at stake. Several species of parrots can live a human lifespan.

African gray parrot with liver disease

Holly Koeckner of Las Vegas, Nevada, cared for her beloved African gray parrot, Murphy, for 17 years. Even though that’s still young for a gray, it’s indeed a long stretch of time. Sad to say, Murphy became sick with liver disease. Despite multiple visits to three different vets, Murphy never improved. Holly did everything she could, but in the end the sickness couldn’t be turned around.

During the last year of her life, Murphy didn’t have enough strength to get around easily. Wanting to stay close to Murphy and give her as much of a view of the world as possible, Holly carried her dear friend around in a basket — covered in a blanket — the final year of her life. After Murphy passed, Holly wasn’t ready for another parrot for seven more years. The pain was too close.

Adopting another African gray

Yet after those years passed, Holly decided she was once again ready to bring a bird back into her home and heart. On a visit to Best Friends, as it turns out, she fell in love with an African gray named Snowdrop. "She was so cute," Holly says. "She’s a very friendly bird." Holly decided to adopt!

One interesting detail in this particular matchup: Snowdrop had a history of only getting along with women. However, she immediately connected with Holly’s husband and three sons. Clearly, she was a perfect fit for the family. "She’s a joy," Holly says. "We’re just having a really good time with her."

Snowdrop, renamed Lucy in her new home, is only a teenager. Holly says that Lucy also acts the part of a teenager, which only endears her further to the family. The difference between birds and human teenagers, however, is that Lucy’s going to probably act like a teenager for the next several decades! It’s all part of the fun with having a parrot in your life.

One of Lucy’s favorite activities is to keep close tabs on everything happening around her. She loves seeing the goings-on whenever possible. For example, the family had a party in their home not long after Lucy’s adoption, and Lucy played the perfect host. She watched everybody with close interest, friendly as could be the whole night long. "She’s a really good bird," Holly says.

Committing to a pet parrot for life

For 17 years, Holly gave everything she had to her previous African gray. In all likelihood, Lucy will be around even longer than Murphy, perhaps much longer. Holly, more than most people, realizes that she’s signed up for a long commitment indeed. And how does she feel about having another parrot in her life again? "I absolutely love it," Holly says.

You see, the only thing better than a happy ending is one that plays out for many, many years to come. Congrats to all!

Considering adopting a feathered friend? Before adopting, read up on a parrot’s characteristics and care, as well as incorporating one into your family.