Benefits of Artificial Lighting
!! IT IS BEYOND THE LAWS OF PHYSICS TO TURN ELECTRICITY INTO SUNLIGHT !!
Nonetheless, there are real benefits to artificial lighting.
Controlling Photoperiod is the #1 Benefit
With artificial lighting you can control how many hours of light your bird receives in a day, known as photoperiod. Many of a bird’s hormones are triggered by photoperiod, which in turn prompt certain behaviors such as nest-building and migration. Dr. Fern Van Sant, owner and primary veterinarian at the For the Birds clinic, explains the importance of photoperiod:
“If there is one single positive change that pet bird owners can make, it is returning the bird to a regularly recurring photoperiod. Whether in the wild or captivity, most birds demonstrate a remarkable periodicity to their days. Restoration of a regular recurring day and night cycle usually results in a happier and healthier companion bird. Birds have in their brains a finely tuned, light sensitive pineal gland. This gland is likely the mechanism by which birds set their circadian rhythm.”
Adding an M&M Light to your bird's cage and turning it on and off with an inexpensive lamp timer enables you to provide a consistent photoperiod.
Providing Enough Light
Unfortunately, a bird cage is hard to light...and birds LOVE light. If your bird’s only source of light is from a window across the room or an overhead light, then cage bars, play tops, and toys often block a lot of it. In the pictures below, the customer has a double French door only inches to the left of the cage but without artificial lighting, the cage remains dim. You can clearly see the difference that a cage mounted light makes.
WHICH CAGE WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE YOUR BIRDS LIVE IN?
The importance of light color for birds.
M&M lights use a proprietary blend of LED's that create significantly more wavelengths than any other light on the market. More wavelengths make surroundings look more natural.
Back in the 80s, when I was an engineer at a company that made dentist drills, our product engineers added a filter to the drill’s lights that increased the output to the 6000K range. When the new product was demonstrated, I was amazed at how much more detail I could see inside of the mouth and how much more natural it looked. It was a huge success because it made the dentist’s job easier. That is a perfect example of the effect that light color has.
There are plenty of scientifically backed studies that show positive mental effects on humans from lights that contain wavelengths that make objects appear more natural. The belief is that the brain expels less energy trying to interoperate objects. It is my personal belief, based on years of feedback from customers, that the same is true with birds.
UVA Waves Affects on Birds.
Humans (trichromats) view the world with around one million colors. Birds (tetrachromats) are able to see around 100 million colors because they see the UVA spectrum. Experts theorize that it helps birds find food easier and identify healthier food. They also speculate that birds see many colors in fellow bird’s plumage that we can’t see, assisting in identification and finding mates.
How this actually affects caged birds is hotly disputed and highly understudied but there are enough independent studies that show positive effects to convince caged bird breeders to take a serious look at UVA.
Will UVA benefit my birds? The short answer is that while much more research still needs to be done, there is evidence of a link between positive bird behavior and UVA.
Will UVA improve my bird’s health? There is no scientific evidence that there is a physical health benefit to caged birds by adding UVA light.
Should I add UVA for my bird? If you have the means to add UVA then absolutely do it. But here is the caveat, you should not think of UVA as a “silver bullet” to make you birds healthier, happier, and more productive because it isn’t. Many years ago, I built UVA lights and conducted an experiment. I set up eight identical cages, four with UVA and four without. Over four years (eight breeding sessions of six months each), I bred Gouldian Finches, Strawberry Finches and Canaries. If there were any benefits of the UVA, they were so slight that they were unnoticeable. This experiment is what led me to not add UVA to my lights, as the benefits would not justify the extra cost.
UVB waves in the bird room
M&M Lights do NOT contain UVB.
In a study published by the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, a team of scientists studied a number of species of parrots that are commonly kept as pets and found that they possess UV-sensitive visual pigments (UVS). Consequently, their eyes are highly sensitive to UVB and overexposure can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and blindness.
Therefore, placing a source of UVB on a bird for 12 hours per day is overexposure at the very least.
When I tested numerous "lights that simulate sunlight” I found that most were just $2 Walmart bulbs. You can watch the VIDEO.
If you do decide to add a source of UVB please practice the following.
- use it only as a supplement to a good quality light
- only run it for a maximum of 4 hours per day
- make sure your bird has a place to escape the UVB light
- keep the light a safe distance from your bird, a safe distance can only be defined by knowing the output of the light, the age of the light and the species of bird.
UVB's affect on birds is a very complex subject, if you are interested in learning more I have more in depth information in the Education section of my website.
In conclusion, a dedicated light on your bird’s cage controlled by a timer will dramatically increase the well-being of your pet. You will enjoy your bird more because you can see it better and our lights will bring out colors that you didn’t even know that your bird had.
Click on a picture below to see the lights. We have a model for Hookbills and one for softbills.
About the Author:
Mark Schack presents seminars on bird lighting at avian events around the country. Though without formal education in avian health, Mark is a mechanical engineer and lifetime hobbyist of breeding pet birds. Frustrated by the lack of availability of good lighting, he decided to build his own. The above information was gathered during Mark’s attempt to build “the perfect light” and through continued study of the subject.