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Your Pet Bird’s Daytime & Nighttime Needs

Discover why UVA lighting, UVB lighting and sleep is so important to your pet bird's health and happiness.

By Jessica Pineda

Woman with kitten
Your pet bird should get at least eight to 12 hours a night.

Many wild parrots live in areas close to the equator, where the length of the day is equal to the length of night. Your pet bird’s needs differ during the day and night.

Daytime Needs For Parrots
During the day, your pet bird needs access to natural sunlight or full-spectrum lighting to get ultraviolet lighting (UV).

Your pet bird needs UVA and UVB light for two reasons, and both fundamental to its health.

UVA Lighting For Parrots
UVA lighting is important for a pet bird’s ability to see. We can see by light passing through the retina in our eyes, which have two types of cells that enable us to see. These are called rods and cones. Cones are what help us make out primary colors (red, green and blue). Rods help us see in dim lighting.

Unlike us, birds have very few rods in their eyes, so they cannot see well in dim lighting. Also, birds have an additional cone in their eyes that enables them to see UVA lighting. Seeing this type of lighting helps in mate selection, recognizing other species and knowing when certain foods are ripe to eat. Without UVA lighting, a bird experiences a condition similar to color blindness in people.

UVB Lighting For Parrots
Your bird needs UVB lighting that comes from the sun or full-spectrum light bulb to create vitamin D. Your bird will use the oil from its uropygial gland (also known as its preening gland), which contains vitamin D3 precursors. When exposed to sunlight or UVB light, those precursors turn into active vitamin D3, which the bird digests when it preens again. Vitamin D3 helps a bird properly use calcium in its body. It can take years for signs of Vitamin-D deficiencies to show in your bird.

At the absolute minimum, your bird needs at least 15 minutes a day of exposure to UVB light or at least four hours one day a week. Issues regarding UVA and UVB lighting are solved with direct exposure to sunlight (not filtered through a window) or by the use of a full-spectrum light source in your home.

The Nighttime Needs For Parrots
At night, parrots in the wild are on alert for nocturnal predators. Parrots cannot see well in dim lighting or darkness, so they rely on other senses. They can feel vibrations through their feet, and are attuned to the slightest sound that might imply the presence of a predator. A pet bird that doesn’t get enough sleep can be cranky, moody or even aggressive. Birds need at least eight to 12 hours of sleep (don’t we all!), so ensure your bird gets enough sleep using these tips.

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Reader Comments
Sunlight here in Florida is very hot. My birds African Gray and Blue and Gold get very hot when outdoors for short times - what do you suggest for sunlight requirements here in the Sunshine State?
Kathey, Sarasota, FL
Posted: 5/16/2013 1:45:45 PM
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