In the wild, the sun dictates not only the seasons but also the biological cycles of birds. The length of the day influences when your bird will molt, breed and migrate amongst other things. Our parrots need to experience the same light and dark cycles as their cousins in the wild.
Our companions wild counterparts are exposed to natural sunlight daily which offers many benefits over the typical household lighting. Exposure to natural sunlight:
- Stimulates the production of Vitamin D which is essential in activating the absorption of calcium necessary for bone and physical development.
- Promotes skin health and feather quality.
- Stimulates breeding activity.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Improves mental disposition.
- Increases playfulness and activity levels.
- Invigorates appetite.
Birds deprived of exposure to UV light often develop undesirable behaviors and can become depressed and lethargic.
Our parrots need to be exposed to natural sunlight or full spectrum light daily. Optimally, this should occur while in an outdoor cage or aviary. Birds do not get the benefits from light that is filtered through windows as glass blocks up to 90% of the beneficial UVA and UVB rays. If it is not possible due to climate or work schedules to allow your bird outdoor time then the next best thing is to expose your bird to artificial full spectrum light.
In order to obtain the necessary lighting, it is recommended that you use full spectrum bulbs with a CRI (color rendition index) value of 92 or greater. It is best to hang the light fixture approximately 18 inches above the cage as artificial UV light does not travel far from it's source. The length of time your parrot should be exposed to full spectrum light depends on where your parrot originated from geographically.
If your bird species originated from near the equator, it will need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Those species further from the equator will need shorter periods of exposure time. Some experts recommend only 4-6 hours of full spectrum lighting per day. You may wish to use full spectrum lighting with a timer in order to mimic natural conditions throughout the year.
Just as important as daylight hours is night time rest. Please refer to our article Hush-a-bye Baby, in the Tree Top for more information on how to ensure your bird gets adequate sleep.