Optimum Lighting for the Bird Room
General Consensus is that day time lights need to encompass
the entire spectrum of color for bird health, longevity and reproduction.
Birds have tetrachromatic vision, red, blue, green, and the lower ultraviolet wavelengths.
Humans have trichromatic or 3 color vision. We don't perceive UV light in the same way as birds do.
Full Spectrum fluorescent bulbs for avian use
Only buy fluorescent lamps that state Full Spectrum. Look for lamps with a color temperature of 5000K or better
and a CRI rating of at least 91. These bulbs can run for up to 20,000 hours!
Mount the bulbs in pairs for best light emission and of course, ceiling mount is the most natural.
Do not buy broad spectrum or wide spectrum bulbs. These bulbs glow pink indicating their red wave length
and are actually wonderful for plant growth but don't have an affect on birds. Gro-lux is an example of a wide spectrum blub.
Full spectrum light has been found to increase endurance, activity, and enhance the feather condition.
Good sunlight from south facing windows can be duplicated by using quality full spectrum lighting.
But no artificial lighting can ever meet your birds 'Vitamin D3' needs as pure sunlight does, so ensure that
this vitamin is supplemented in the diet.
Aggressive behavior and stress related immune disorders can be improved by blue light
Sex Ratio: It is well known that the quality and quantity
of ultraviolet light is the primary factor in the sex of the offspring
of a number of animals, birds and fish. Experiments show that full spectrum
lighting results in an increase in the production of female offspring.
This is absolutely essential to our exotic dove and finch populations
where, under standard incandescent or cool white fluorescent lighting,
male young can make up 75-90% of the offspring. One 4 foot black light
tube (ultraviolet) mounted so that it will shine directly into all cages
is all that is required to restore a 50/50 sex ratio. Canary, budgie and
cockatiel breeders who wish to have more males produced should avoid "black
Cool white and warm white fluorescent bulbs are in the range of visible green.
Incandescent and halogen lighting is in the red and infrared spectrum and radiates a lot of heat.
Nightlights of 7-15 watts using a white lamp similar to moon light should be employed to prevent night frights,
chilled eggs and youngsters.
Day time lighting must be at least 10 times the intensity of night time in order for a bird to distinguish betweem
night and day.
Red Light Bulbs can be used if you have birds that are not coming into breeding condition appropriately.
The red wave lengths halp to stimulate breeding when used in addition to lengthening daylight hours.
The old timers used to paint the incandescent light bulbs red for this purpose.
Feather plucking has responded favorably to the addition of red light.
Infra Red Heat Lamps provide a 24 hour radiant heat source that can be used to heal a sick bird or
assist an egg bound hen and are far more effective than incandescent lights. They do not disturb natural sleep.
Stick to the 50 watt size. Black moonlight bulbs exhibit a similar warming effect and have less intense heat output.
They come in 15, 25, and 40 watt size.
How much light do you need in your bird room?
Matthew Vriends has successfully used this formula in breeding many types of finch. He states in his
book, Simon and Schuster's Guide to Pet Birds, "In calculating how much fluorescent lighting is needed,
assume 40 watts per square meter".
A regular schedule of light is important.
A timer is a necessity for consistency in the proper amount of light each
day. Birds learn to anticipate when the lights will come on and go off.
They require 10-14 hours of light per day with the average for non breeding
birds around 12 hours. This photoperiod must be increased to 14-16 hours
a day to directly influence breeding behavior. Most breeders increase
the lighting gradually by 1/2 hour a week but some use a 'sudden' method
whereby the lighting is increased by 3 hours in a single step. Apparently
this method works well for some birds that are perennial slow starters.
To stop unwanted or constant egg laying try a sudden decrease in light to less than 10 hours per day.
Much research has been done on lighting and its effect on bird health.
Many of these resources are available on the internet by searching "Avian
Lighting". A book by well known researcher, John Ott, is an interesting
read, titled "Health and Light".