Monday, January 28, 2008

How long do birds live? How many offspring do they have?

Hi! Recently I was asked questions on birds. The answer got truncated by the program handling the answer. I decided to re-create the answer here, thus, this post.

I am very excited to get your question. One reason is that my nephew is very interested in birds and we often watch them and talk about them. My mother, too, likes birds. My parents have a bird feeder and also go bird-watching. They are in their eighties. I think the birds help keep them young!

I imagine that the number of times a bird reproduces depends on the type of bird (chicken or robin, for example)and on the particular bird (Just like you like one kind of ice cream and your friend likes another, different birds might reproduce different numbers of times based on preference. Similarly, numbers of offspring and longevity vary among bird families and bird individuals just like they do among human families and individuals. The oldest woman I know is 115 years old, for example. The life span is now 160 for people. Some people die before reaching that age, because of accident or disease. The same kind of thing happens to birds: some live longer than others, some have more offspring than others. But, there are other answers...
I think I can help you find some answers.

Here is a diagram of a "typical" bird life cycle. Click here.

There is a bird expert (, ask for the, "bird expert.") at the Franklin Park Zoo ( and you can see some of "Bird World" too.

The National Zoo offers bird facts
where you can find lots of information. The bald eagle, for example can live 48 years in captivity at zoos (less in the wild). It has two or three eggs a year and typically mates in the spring, but may mate more often.

Teaching printables can be found at:

Another part of the answer addressed the fact that women and men can both be scientists and the student (a girl) asking the question was encouraged to go on in science.

There is a bird game already posted. I'll put a link here: Click!

Well, I haven't recreated the entire answer, but I repeated the work that was lost as well as I could recall it at present.

Edited on 10-20-09:
See comments below for more information. Here is a quote from one of them showing a sample of the kind of information you can find there on many birds:





Laysan Albatross


White-crowned Sparrow


Arctic Tern


House Sparrow


Great Frigatebird


Warbling Vireo


Source for the information on the albatross, tern, and frigatebird shown above: Accessed 10-20-09. Notes: Copyright ® 1988 by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye,
from The Birder's Handbook (which covers birds of North America), note the date of the statistics (which are now 21 years old), the website data is limited to campus(Stanford) birds (in California) [Thanks to D. Wheye for these added clarifications in the above, "Notes."]


Dr-J said... is another, "bird," site. I think you will enjoy it.

(Review it before you use it. It may change from when I see it till when you use it, so check it and use you own judgment. Also encourage student to use higher order thinking skills to evaluate any websites selected and to independently decide on their value.)

Dr-J said... is a link to life spans of particular birds.

Dr-J said...

T'ai sent the following comment via e-mail: "With all the recent media coverage of the threats to honey bees, it is nice to consider the case of the pollination of one of our beloved crops. Pumpkins (or their wild ancestors anyway) are native to North America and so are some of their most reliable pollinators (native squash bees and bumble bees). Squash bee females only collect pollen from the plant genus Cucurbita (pumpkins, gourds and squash) and the males sleep in the flowers at night and spend the day searching the flowers for squash bee females. While European honey bees are used for pollination of large pumpkin monocultures, native bees predominate on many farms, can provide full pollination services, and can ensure fruit production regardless of what happens to honey bees as a result of colony collapse disorder. Insomuch as farms (and home gardens) function as a part of the environment and provide living conditions for insects, rather than as outdoor growth chambers where insects are only considered pests, wild pollinators are a breath of good news amidst the gloom and doom reports of honey bee decline." T'ai Roulston