In this paper, we use a finite-state continuous-time Markov chain with one absorbing state to model an individual’s lifetime. Under this model, the time of death follows a phase-type distribution, and the transient states of the Markov chain are known as phases. We then attempt to provide an answer to the simple question “What is the conditional age distribution of the individual, given its current phase”? We show that the answer depends on how we interpret the question, and in particular, on the phase observation scheme under consideration. We then apply our results to the computation of the age pyramid for the endangered Chatham Island black robin Petroica traversi during the monitoring period 2007–2014.