budgies and full spectrum lighting

Budgies and the importance of full spectrum lighting

When the topic of full spectrum lighting comes up it’s common to see some parakeet owners indicate they don’t need to provide a full spectrum light because their parakeets’ cage is “right near a huge window”. Unfortunately, this is not the case, windows block the essential light rays and utilizing a full spectrum light for budgies is, if not essential, a boon to their health.

I think about it this way, we all know the benefits of sunshine for human beings, even though we have a risk of skin cancer, getting some rays is essential for Vitamin D production in humans and avoiding things like seasonal affective disorder. Just sitting next to a window on a sunny February day isn’t going to cut it, we must either go outside and sit in the sun or take supplements to increase our Vitamin D.

It’s very similar for parakeets and other parrots, who are even less likely than humans to go outside on a frigid February day! That’s where avian lamps and bulbs come into play.

So – why is Vitamin D so important to parakeets? It aids in the absorption of nutrients, but beyond what it helps with, the deficiency of it is more alarming. Vitamin D deficiency leads to low calcium levels because the calcium couldn’t be absorbed. Low calcium levels can cause seizures, avian stargazing disease and cancer. These are in addition to breeding issues like soft eggs and egg-binding.

On the positive site, exposure to full spectrum light has been shown to help with cranky budgies and self-harming behaviors like plucking.

Budgies and other parrots get their Vitamin D in a couple of really neat ways, one is by using the oil in their “preen” glands to coat their feathers, the oil produces Vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet rays so when the birds grooms itself again it ingests the vitamin D on its feathers.

They also absorb vitamin D through their eyes, as we know, the budgies’ sense of sight is far superior to the human’s because they can see UVA and UVB rays. So, having full spectrum lighting means that you help them unlock the full potential of their eyesight, in addition to all the other benefits.

To help keep our budgies healthy we have an avian lamp and Bulb , which are on for 3 hours a day on a timer. This is enough time to get them the rays they need every day. I’m hoping to get them outside for some actual sunshine this summer, but in the absence of being able to do that most days of the year it’s good to know we are providing them with some full spectrum rays 365 days a year. Now, am I going to try and say that your budgies are going to die if they don’t have full spectrum lighting? Absolutely not, I’m sure countless budgies have lived long and healthy lives in the absence of full spectrum lighting. But, if you can provide it, why not give them that extra bump of what they need to make sure they are feeling good and getting that essential vitamin D?

6 thoughts on “Budgies and the importance of full spectrum lighting”

    1. Thanks for commenting! I’ve heard that reptile lights can damage bird eyes, but not avian-specific full spectrum fluorescents. I do know it’s important to make sure the light is above the budgies and not where they’d have to stare into it at eye level.

  1. I’ve been using full spectrum lighting for my Budgie for 3 years now. I turn it on in the morning when we wake and shut it off when it begins to get dark in the evening. Now someone told me that that is much too long to have the light on. My house is very dark. does not get direct natural light. Am I putting my Budgie in danger by leaving his light on for more than 8 hrs. a dy.?

    1. Everything I’ve read says full spectrum should be limited to 3-4 hours a day. I don’t think they are in immediate danger or anything, but 8 hours a day might be a bit much. I can see that you wouldn’t want them to be in the dark the rest of the day though! Would it be possible to get another lamp with a regular bulb for area lighting?

  2. I just had a question about UVB bulbs for my budgies. They are always indoors and I can’t leave the window shade open because the natural light doesn’t hit them while in the cage and when they are out the will fly into the window. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if this will help them in the long run.

    I wanted to make sure the zoomed bulb I bought (reptisun 5.0 UVB 13-watt tropical bulb mini compact fluorescent) would be safe for them or should I buy the avian sun 5.0 UVB 26-watt bulb? Are there any differences with the spectrums or anything?

    1. The Reptisun bulb looks pretty similar to the avian sun except for the wattage, so it may not put out as much light as the avian sun bulb, but the spectrum is the same. I’m not an expert, but my feeling would be that they’d be better than no UVB light at all.

      Also, your window panes would filter out the UVB rays anyhow, so it’s totally okay that it’s an option. Although if you want to leave the shades open while they are out and about you can just get some window clings and stick them up, doesn’t have to be permanent but that way your birds will be able to tell that the window is solid.

      Best of luck with your birds!

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