Many pet bird owners are risking the health of their birds by keeping them indoors all day long without any source of natural sunlight.
You might have heard in the news that many people are lacking vitamin D because they’re stuck inside an office all day long. Well, the same is true for your pet birds which is why they need a proper source of natural light. Fortunately, bird cage lights and avian full spectrum lighting can provide this solution. When properly set up, a UV light will make your birds will be both happier and healthier.
In this article we look at the benefits of full spectrum lighting, how it works and the best lamps and light bulbs that are available for your pet birds.
The best bird light that we came across is the Featherbrite Universal Light which easily rests upon the top of both flat and dome top based bird cages. A runner up is the Avian Sun Floor Lamp from Zoo Med which offers a similar solution but comes as a ground based stand that offers a swivel neck adjustment. ArtifactDesign also provides a similar but adjustable, wall-mounted based solution.
However, just as a important as the lamps and maybe even more so are the light bulbs used. The bird light bulbs that we recommend include the Featherbrite bulbs and the Avian Sun bulbs, plus Featherbrite even offers some night light options as well.
Each bird cage light was examined by looking at factors such as the spectrum of lighting used, build quality, safety features and ease of use. By looking at these factors we managed to discover the best bird lights that are available. Either read our reviews of the best bird cage light or continue reading below to see our guide to lighting your pet birds.
Benefits of UV light for birds
Unfortunately, window filtered sunlight that most indoor birds see just doesn’t provide the full UV range needed to keep your bird healthy.
However, full spectrum lighting can provide the following benefits for your birds:
- It helps to synthesise vitamin D, which prevents vitamin D deficiency and low calcium levels which can cause weak bones and poor egg shell quality. Whilst you might think vitamin D supplements could fix this, the issue is that we don’t know how much each species of vitamin D a bird needs, so lighting provides a better solution.
- Makes your birds happier which reduces stress and then they’ll be less likely to develop problem behaviors and have a weakened immune system.
- Recreates a birds natural environment which helps with the birds body clock and aids with bird sleeping.
- Improves the vision of birds because they use the full spectrum for their vision.
- Many owner’s often note improvements in the feathers and plumage of the birds as these become stronger and brighter.
Dr. Karen Becker provides more details about the benefits of avian lighting in the video below:
Types of UV light birds need
From Wikipedia, the visual spectrum that birds can see.
How does full spectrum lighting work
Full spectrum lighting provides the normal lighting that humans can see but also the full amount of UVA and UVA light that birds can also sense. This is necessary for recreating the effects of natural lighting and providing the full health benefits to pet birds. According to WildLifeRehabber.com, full spectrum is definied as a light which has a “CRI (color rendition index) of greater than 90, and a Color Temperature of >5000K”.
Birds can see UVA light because they have 4 types of cones in their retinas whereas humans only have 3. It’s necessary for full spectrum lighting for parrots to include UVA light otherwise a bird isn’t be given it’s full visible range.
This form of UV light helps with the production of vitamin D. UVB light isn’t generated by normal light bulbs so specialist ones need to be used. Also, windows block UVB which is why artificial lighting is needed.
How to safely setup a bird cage light?
After ensuring you have chosen the correct lamp and bulb, the three next most important things to consider are:
1) Positioning your bird light
Most importantly, you want to angle your bird light to be above the cage of your bird. You do not want it to be sideways facing or beneath your pet. This is because otherwise the birds can stare into the light bulb causing blindness.
You also want the distance of this bulb to be 12″ to 24″ away from the top of the cage. ParrotIslandInc.com recommends a the lights be kept 2 foot away when using strong or hot light bulbs. Too far away and the birds won’t feel the effect of the light and too close and they’ll have too much light.
2) Prevent any biting or chewing of cables
This is especially true if you have parrots which have strong beaks. You need to ensure that the lamp and any wires from it are not within reach of the bird.
3) How long should you keep your bird light on?
There is no firm answer to this question. According to the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, 10 to 12 hours of light is the normal amount of light you should provide your birds daily. When first using the light you want to ensure that your birds are not being exposed to much of the light so keep an eye on the bird and how far it is positioned away from the cage. Once you and the bird are more familiar with the light then you can use a timer to set a regular schedule that mimics that amount of light they would be likely to receive in nature.
Buying factors to consider
When reviewing these lights, we looked at the following criteria:
- Light Spectrum – Does the light bulb provide full spectrum lighting along with both UVA and UVA?
- Price – Have much of a dent into your wallet is this going to cause?
- Safety – Is it easy to prevent your birds from touching and chewing the lamp or wires that the light comes with it?
- Building quality – Are the lights used from durable materials that are sturdy and will last or are they cheap and flimsy?
- Ease of setup – A good bird light design is simple, and can be installed, removed and repositioned with ease.
Avian Lighting and Parrot Light Reviews
Review Of: Featherbrite Bird Cage Universal Light
This is the best UV light available for birds. It’s easy to setup and use plus it’s made from quality materials so the lamp lasts a long time. Comes with top notch customer service if anything goes wrong. Ideal for parrots and other pet birds. Highly recommended.
Review Of: Zoo Med Avian Sun Deluxe Floor Lamp
You can see how the floor lamp is set up in the manual provided here.
The runner up product option which is a better choice if you’re looking for a floor lamp based solution. Light bulb not included and has to be bought separately – we recommended one of the ones listed below.
Review Of: Adjustable Wall Lamp Arm
As long as this wall lamp arm is positioned above the bird cage (and not to the side of it), then this is very adjustable solution as a parrot light. However, if placed sideways (and not above) then this could potentially cause blindness in your pet birds. Still requires a full spectrum light bulb to be purchased separately.
Bird Cage Light Bulbs
Any normal, correctly sized light bulb would work with the lamps listed above. However, normal light bulbs don’t provide the full spectrum of lighting that birds need to keep themselves healthy.
Imagine a human working in a dimly light office cubicle with no windows vs someone working in an open plan office with a properly lighted room and big open windows.
That’s why we recommend the light bulbs that have been specially designed for parrots and birds in general. These provide the full range of UVA and UVB light required and will make your birds happier.
UV Lights for Birds
Avian Sun Bulbs
This 26 watt light bulb provides the full spectrum lighting (UVA and UVB) for your birds, allowing indoor birds to make that much needed vitamin D. The bulb will fit any light fixture of the same size and is screw based. Is not included in the purchase of the Avian Sun Floor Lamp listed above so also needs to be purchased if buying one.
The Featherbrite Fluorescent bulb comes with a screw in base and also simulates natural lighting for your pet birds. Bulb is included in the Featherbrite Lamp listed above however, it’s worth getting a spare. Statistics are:
- 20 Watts
- 120 volts
- 91 CRI (color rendering index)
- 5,500 kelvins
- 1,450 lumens
- UVA 5%
- UVB .04%
- Size: 2 1/2″ x 5 1/2″
Bird Night Lights
FeatherBrite Moonlight Night Bulb
Different from a daytime light, this night time light bulb helps to prevent “night fright” that can happen in your birds. It provides a calming blue light that simulates the dim light of the moon. A good purchase for people that are experiencing problems with their birds having night terrors. Uses an LED bulb so is long lasting.
Related Bird Lighting Accessories
Bird Light Timer
Turning your bird light on and off can be a hassle but with this timer you can do things automatically. Just make sure you have positioned the light correctly and are only using it for only the correct amount of time, as detailed in the above guide.
Bird Cage Covers
The opposite to the bird light, bird cage covers can be used to block out any light sources and provide warmth and security. This is particularly useful in areas that are nearby streets and car lights. See our full guide to them here.
The light bulbs listed in this article are ones that are designed to not emit any heat and instead just provide a strong source of natural light. So you may still want to consider a bird heater for your bird, especially in the winter. Check out our guide to them here.
Air purifiers for Bird Dust and Dander
Another consideration is all of the dust and dander that is produced by birds naturally and then builds up around the bird cage and in the air. This can become very unhealthy for your bird if left to accumulate. Our guide to fixing this problem can be seen here.