How Long Do Quaker Parrots (Monk Parakeet) Live in the Wild?

Quaker Parrots (Myiopsitta monachus) – also called Monk Parakeets – are one of the most familiar of all birds in captivity. These small parrots are native to central and southern South America, particularly the country of Argentina.

A Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet) perched on a branch with blue sky
A Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet) . Photo by Becky Matsubara

How long does a Quaker Parrot survive in the wild?

What is their natural lifespan?

The commonly quoted numbers for both the average and maximum lifespan of Monk Parakeets is 20-30 years.

But how accurate is this really?

Knowing the lifespan of most wild parrots is never easy. Very few species have been studied in depth enough, across the entire life cycle, to determine how long they live for as a species on average.

We know a lot about how long Monk Parakeets can live in captivity. But there are countless variables that will determine a captive parrot’s lifespan – some are good, and many are bad.

Diet, housing, exposure to sun, mental stimulation, social stimulation, access to veterinary care, and overall quality of life factors are going to all play a role in the lifespan of a Quaker who is a pet or aviary bird.

These factors are completely different to what we think about when considering the average lifespan of Quakers in the wild.

Two Quaker Parrots feeding on the grass
Two Quaker Parrots feeding on the grass. Photo by tartaruga33

What factors will play a role in how long Monk Parakeets will live in the wild?

Genetics

Every parrot species is limited by their genetics when it comes to their maximum lifespan.

For example it’s impossible for a Budgerigar to live to 50 years old, no matter how perfect their health and life is – just as it’s impossible for a human to live to 200 years old.

Every species has it’s natural limit. So the question for Quaker Parrots is: what could be their maximum lifespan in the wild?

Predation

All wild parrots are prey species. Their lives can end at any moment if they are taken by a bird of prey or other natural predator. This may happen before they even leave the nest, shortly after fledging, or many years into their adult life.

Human impacts

Habitat loss, illegal poaching, shooting, poisoning and other circumstances can all cut short the life of a wild Quaker Parrot.

Shortage of food or poor quality food caused by widespread habitat loss can also lead to poor health and premature death.

Those who frequent Wikipedia will note two mentions of Monk Parakeet lifespan. Firstly it is stated a Quaker Parrot’s lifespan is in the range of 20 to 30 years – however no references are provided as to where this number comes from. It is almost certainly determined by anecdotes of Quaker’s in captivity.

Wiki also later states that:

The lifespans of monk parakeets have been given as 15–80 years[13] or as long as 30-100years;[14] the former might refer to typical lifespans in captivity and/or in the wild, while the latter is in the range of maximum lifespans recorded for parakeets.

The latter statement of “30-100” year lifespan – a huge range – comes without any evidence and is simply a “might” statement based on the lifespan of other “parakeet” species – however parakeet is a general world used as a common name for numerous parrot species around the world from Budgies to Indian Ringneck Parrots.

A 30-100 year lifespan for Quaker Parrots is not an accurate representation of the species and could be akin to throwing a dart on to a dartboard to estimate their lifespan.

Both now defunct websites linked to through Wikipedia to reference the lifespan statements state, again without any study or evidence, that a Quaker lifespan is 15-20 years, of 25-30 years/.

The point? All statements about both the maximum lifespan of Quaker Parrots – either in the wild or in captivity – are anecdotes and repeated statements that do come without any hard scientific evidence.

There’s good reason or that though: we just don’t have the study of wild Quaker’s to determine how long they might be living.

That includes either in their original South American native range, or in the multiple locations around the world where they’ve been able to colonize and build up small populations.

In any case, few would consider a maximum lifespan of 100 years for a Monk Parakeet, whereas 30 years is likely to be near the very upper end of an expected maximum wild Quaker Parrot lifespan.