One of the most common questions asked when talking about full spectrum lighting is: What is it and do my birds really need it?
What is Full Spectrum lighting? Full Spectrum Lighting is made up of two rays, UVA and UVB. Most all birds originate from the tropical areas closest to the equator. In that area is where the sunlight reaches the earth and birds from the most undiluted form. The behavior, metabolism, and proper function of the glandular system is linked to the photoperiod. Which is the time from sunrise to sunset.
The glandular system benefits greatly from proper full spectrum lighting and need to be stimulated by normal photoperiods. The Thyroid Gland controls how and when the other glands function, the Hypothalamus is involved in proper skin and feather development, and the Pineal Gland controls molting and the reproductive cycle. The UV light strengthens a bird’s immune system to protect against germs and bacteria. Birds synthesize Vitamin D, during this synthesis the liver manufactures a good cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol. That substance then travels to the blood stream, which when exposed to UV light through the retina and skin becomes previtamin D. The bird’s body temperature then turns the previtamin D to form Vitamin D3. D3 is required for the digestive tract to be able to extract calcium from the diet to have strong healthy bones.
Does my bird really need full spectrum lighting? Yes, your bird does require full spectrum lighting. In the wild birds have constant access to natural sunlight. In our homes without full spectrum lighting there is no exposure to natural sun light, UVA or UVB. Putting them in front of a window will not give them access to natural sunlight. Glass window made post 1939 filter out 90% of beneficial UV spectrum. The aluminum screens filter out 30% or more UV light. Without the full spectrum lighting birds have no way of getting the UVA and UVB lighting that their body need to function properly.
Another question commonly asked is if the birds will be affected without the full spectrum light? Again, that answer is yes, they will be negatively affected without proper full spectrum lighting. Birds health is dependent on sunlight! Without full spectrum lighting your bird’s feathers will look dull and brittle, the bird will be lethargic and gloomy. Without the proper photoperiod your bird’s sleep schedule will be affected, it will be more reactive to stress which could cause plucking, and its immune system will be compromised. The overall physical and mental health of the of the bird will decrease without proper full spectrum lighting.
Without full spectrum lighting birds are basically color blind. The full spectrum lighting will allow them to see vivid colors which helps them navigate their environment, find food, and see dangerous animals approaching. Being able to see vivid colors helps support a bird’s self-confidence in its own ability to keep itself safe.
How to effectively use Full Spectrum Lighting
Here at Bird Paradise we sell FeatherBrite Full Spectrum Lighting fixtures which uses a duo bulb system. One bulb is a full spectrum compact 16w LED bulb and the other is a 1.5w UV bulb. These bulbs cannot be used on a dimmer control. The full spectrum light should be approximately two feet ABOVE the bird, going beyond two feet will diminish the effect of the bulbs. It is best to use this light on a timer to automatically turn on and off at designated times. It is important to have the light on during the brightest time of the day, so you are not adding to the total photoperiod. A general rule when the lights should be on: small birds (such as finches, cockatiels, lovebirds, parakeets, and like birds)- 2 hours per day. Greys, Poicephalus, Vasa, Eclectus, and Cockatoos- 6 hours per day. All others- 4 hours per day. It is especially important not to stray from the natural sunrise and sunset times when using the light. By doing so you can trigger abnormal behaviors in the birds. Behaviors such as egg laying, territorial aggression, excessive release of sextual hormones, and excessive release of adrenaline.
When you bring you little feathered family member home you become their primary care giver. You become responsible not just for their physical health, but for their mental well-being too. Full Spectrum Lighting provide birds the same benefits of natural sunlight for a better healthier life, just indoors. Full Spectrum Lighting help with day to day health as well as seasonal hormonal regulations. Giving them access to their required UVA and UVB lighting will increase your feathered family member’s mental health, physical health, and their plumage. You will see them perk up, their feathers will shine, you will have increased their longevity, and their overall quality of life.