How to tell how old a bird is

There are several methods.

1) The lower the social security number, the older the bird, but this does not work on most migratory species;

2) You ask for its birth certificate, but they often fake these.

3) Go here and read this post on how to do it using Science.


  1. #1 sikiş
    October 17, 2009


  2. #2 Alcari
    October 17, 2009

    Are you telling me that cutting them in half and counting the rings is not an option?


  3. #3 Mike Haubrich
    October 17, 2009

    Regarding dating methods by using SSN: The SSN is not assigned in order of birth. The pre-fixes are regional. There’s a more complete explanation here:

    I had a friend who claimed his grandma was so old her SSN was 000-00-0003, but that didn’t sound right to me, so I checked it out. My grandparents were older, and their SSN’s each stared with “47” like mine, so what he said didn’t make sense.

  4. #4 Diane G.
    October 17, 2009

    What #3 said.

    Both my kids have lower numbers than my husband & I.

  5. #5 Kirk
    October 17, 2009

    Thanks for the link Greg. You might be interested in aging a bird using a completely different method. That last one used the eye but this one: uses a band in the tail of a brown thrasher. There is actually a really cool way to age chickadees by looking at their tail. I’ll have to get some photos up on that.


  6. #6 sean
    October 18, 2009

    There are many more methods than these, most involving assessing the molt. Some birds can be aged to 3 or more years using molt limits.