A Practice Focused on Caged and Exotic Birds

All Bird Clinic

Where did the Sunshine Go?

Light Supplementation for our Avian Friends.

As fall and winter come many of our University Place and Tacoma birds will need UVB supplementation according to Dr. Deanna Shafar. Current recommendations are for parrots to receive twenty (20) minutes of unfiltered sunlight three (3) times per week; or a total of one (1) hour per week.

Why is this you may ask?

Parrots are equatorial species and in the wild are exposed to natural sunlight every day. The UVB rays facilitate Vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin D contributes to proper calcium metabolism and factors into immune health.

Does putting my bird in front of the window meet this requirement?

NO! The window glass filters out the beneficial UVB rays.

Challenges in the Pacific Northwest:

If they can be secured from escape and predation, birds may be taken outside. Ideally the outside temperature should be between 65 and 80 degrees. Direct supervision is strongly encouraged.

Linear fluorescent, full spectrum, low intensity bulbs are preferred for inside use during the many times that birds cannot be taken outside. Some brand names include: Nature Sunlite FS, Vitabright FS and TruLight FS.

Tips for use of full spectrum lighting:

1. The glass or plastic covering on the fixture holding the bulb must be removed. These materials filter out the beneficial  UVB rays.

2. Bulbs need to be replaced approximately every 6 – 12 months, or according to label instructions, regardless of whether they emit light. The gas inside the bulb that emits the UVB radiation has a shelf-life.

3. Put the fixture on a timer to simulate mid-day and only use approximately 2 hours a day.

4. Keep the fixture approximately 18 inches from the bird. Bird’s thin skin can be sunburned and the corneas of their eyes can be seriously damaged if the light is too close.

Just like those of us who don’t have access to year-round sunny, warm climates, our avian friends can also become UVB deficient when not sufficiently exposed to it. UVB supplementation is an important component to your birds overall health. If you have additional questions regarding your bird and proper lighting contact University Place Veterinary Hospital  today.