Full Spectrum Lighting Avian Lighting Needs


he following information is

T designed to answer some basic questions and provide suggestions on the subject of full spectrum lighting. The information offered is not based upon scientific research. It is the opinion of the author, based on careful observation that companion parrots do respond positively to daily supplemental lighting. It is important for each bird owner to adjust the brightness and amount of lighting to the needs of his particular avian species.

Some of this information deals with electrical fixtures and wiring. For those who are not.experienced or knowledgeable about electricity and safe wiring practice, I suggest that you enlist the help of a qualified electrician to actually install the electrical fixtures, In some cases, limited full spectrum lighting can be supplied by a readymade floor standing or cage-mounted fixture. However, the most desirable arrangement uses suspended, ceilingmounted fluorescent tubes of the proper type, driven by flicker-free electronic ballasts.

Avian Lighting Needs

First, lets address why your bird might need extra light in the form of a full spectrum lighting fixture. The answer depends upon where you live, and the arrangements you have made for lighting the birds living area during daylight hours. Bird owners that keep their birds in outdoor aviaries where they have easy access to direct sunlight 

probably do not need supplemental full spectrum lighting. However, a dark apartment, or a room with limited natural lighting simply will not provide enough light for the birds mental and physical well being.

Most of our avian companions have evolved in warm, sunny climates. It makes sense that at least .part of the bird's day should include bright, sunlike light. I first noticed the beneficial effects of full spectrum lighting while observing my Cockatiel. He would follow me around the house during my daily chores, squealing and fidgeting all the time. I happened to tum on a full spectrum fight one day and noticed that my bird immediately perched directly underneath the light. After a few minutes of grooming, he calmed down and went to sleep. I began adding a few hours of extra lighting over his cage and noted an improvement in his general well being and an overall calming effect on his personality. I also noted that the Cockatiel's feathers became more lustrous and shiny after using the light for a few weeks. These observations are difficult to document in a scientific way, but I encourage others to do some experimenting along the same lines. I think you will find that adding full spectrum lighting for at least a few hours each day will improve your bird's behavior and appearance, and it will make him happier.

What exactly is full-spectrum light? The term refers to a light source that closely approximates the mixture of visible light given off by the noontime sun on the equator. There is a handy number that tells you how closely a particular light source approximates noontime sunlight: it is called the Color Rendition Index number, or CRI.

The CRI of a light source is given as a percentage. ACRI of 100 indicates that the lamps visible color spectrum is exactly like that of noontime sunlight. A CRI of 90 would indicate a 90% approximation of noontime sunlight. For our purposes, a CRI of about 86 and above can be called full spectrum. Another method used to specify the color mixture of a light source is the Kelvin temperature rating. A full spectrum light source will generally have a Kelvin temperature rating of 5000 to 5500 degrees. Both rating methods are in use today, but the CRI rating seems to be the most reliable method.

Notice that we are concerned with visible light only. Full spectrum light does not imply that we are going to be adding infrared or ultraviolet fight to our birds environment. Significant amounts of UV light can be hazardous to humans and birds, and for that reason we do not use UV lighting. Although most fixtures do emit small amounts of UV, the amount is not significant. Infrared light, on the other hand, can be understood as radiant heat emitted by the warm lamp. We are specifically interested in supplying bright, sun-like light across the whole visible spectrum. Our fixtures should produce enough light to brighten the entire cage area without emitting an undue amount of heat.

Household Lighting

What is wrong with normal household lighting? This is a very interesting question and the answer will surprise most people. By far the most common type of indoor lighting is still the incandescent bulb. The bulbs most often bum in table lamp fixtures to illuminate small areas of the room. Incandescent bulbs produce a yellowish light, and a large amount of heat.