Benefits & Risks

One of the goals of enriching the lives of our companion birds is to ensure that they receive optimal environmental conditions. As Guardians of our birds’ health, another important goal is to avoid causing harm. UV lighting has both the potential to improve as well as harm the health of our birds. Client education on proper UV lighting for birds had received little attention from the veterinary community until only recently. In addition, there had historically been a considerable amount of misinformation and lack of information from the pet industry on this subject. This discussion will focus on parrots but applies to all birds in captivity.

Key Points

  • The benifits of UV light warrant that all companion birds should receive some exposure.
  • UV light can help maintain good bone density and can help stimualte exercise.
  • Most windows filter out the beneficial UVB rays that help birds produce vitamin D.
  • Natural Sun Exposure for 20-30 mins, 2-3 times a week in the warmer months is ideal.
  • During the winter, UVB bulbs are highly recommended.
  • Birds on a poor diet (all seed therefore calcium deficient) and birds that are cronic egg layers will especially benefit from year round UVB Light.
  • Bulb exposure time and distance depend on the bulb used.
  • The goal is to mimic mid morning sun (UV index 2-4).
  • Generally, the bulb should be on for a minimum of 3-4 hours a day.
  • Always mount the bulb above (not to the side of) the cage.
  • Always provide a UV gradient so the bird can move away from the light if it wants to.
  • In general, high output bulbs should be no closer than 6 inches and low output bulbs should be no futher than 12 inches from the top of the birds head at its highest perching location.
  • At this time, it is recommended that linear tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs are used rather than mercury vapor flood lights
  • Always carefully read the package instructions for your bulb
  • Bulbs should be replaced every 6 months because UV output will decrease over time.
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