full spectrum lighting - distances

by Frank Birdsong
(Alexandria, Va, USA)

How should I determine the distance above a bird to locate a full-spectrum light?

What does one do about getting light close enough to birds in cages that are 4-6 feet tall?

Thank you,
Frank

Comments for full spectrum lighting - distances

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 31, 2011
Full spectrum lighting for birds information
by: The Avian Vet

I understand that the reason behind providing UVA and UVB wavelengths within full-spectrum lighting is to provide light they need for processing vitamin D3 into calcium for proper internal health. At least that is one reason. Other reasons appear to have to do with satisfying their need for "full color" vision and for satisfying their need for photosynchrony...regulating day-night cycles.
These statements are almost correct. Vitamin D3 is not processed into calcium, but it is required for calcium to utilized. UV light converts the vitamin D3 precursor into vitamin D3. The precursor is found in the preen gland oil. When it is spread over the feathers and exposed to light, it is converted to D3, then ingested during preening. The other reason is as you say, to provide full color vision since birds are able to see in the UV spectrum. In nature this ability provides a way to search for food such as ripe fruit or an appropriate mate, among other activities.

My problem is that I can't find any guidelines on how much wattage and from what distances delivers the right amount of full-spectrum lighting to the bird(s) and how that varies with species.
The real problem is that these guidelines do not exist. There are no research funds to look at the light needs of birds. Most of the information provided is extrapolated from other studies, often in poultry and even in reptiles. There are some groups looking at light for birds, but the information is very limited and difficult to find. If you have access to PubMed, or CAB abstracts or other academic databases, you may be more successful looking at published papers.

Can you provide guidelines for combinations of bulb wattage versus distance required to assure that the bird receives the proper amount and intensity of lighting exposure?
My recommendation is to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the specific bulb that you have. In my experience, and from working with ZooMed, they seem to be the most knowledgeable about this subject and have the best products.

Also, how might this vary with species?
I am sure this would vary with species given that the different species inhabit different latitudes, longitudes and altitude, with varying amounts of light, intensity, and exposure.

Is this relationship known?
No, at least to my knowledge, I have never seen anything published.

Dr B
Full spectrum lighting sold here

Aug 23, 2011
full spectrum lighting - distances
by: Linda

Well, you are making this way too complicated. We use a 2 24" full spectrum bulbs in a fixturea a few inches from the ceiling over our double Macaw cage where we have two Amazons. There is a fixture with 24" built over each part of cage. This is as close as these lights need to be because some heat is given off by any of these lights, and lights need to be farther away instead of so close. The sun is not right over their heads when outside, so should not be that way inside.

Purchase the Over the cage full spectrum lighting. The fixtures can be either hanging from a chain, which we have, or can be wired into a light fixture. Ours are hanging a few inches down from ceiling to keep birds from being too close, and are plugged into an extension cord that plugs into socket. This wattage and distance is fine for all birds inside or outside.

Hope this helps you make things easier on yourself and saves you some money as well!

Linda

Aug 22, 2011
Next level of detail ...
by: Frank

Thank you for your helpful information. BTW, My bird species of interest at this time is Yellow-bibbed Lories(Lorius chlorocercus).

I understand that the reason behind providing UVA and UVB wavelengths within full-spectrum lighting is to provide light they need for processing vitamin D3 into calcium for proper internal health. At least that is one reason. Other reasons appear to have to do with satisfying their need for "full color" vision and for satisfying their need for photosynchrony...regulating day-night cycles.

Problem:
My problem is that I can't find any guidelines on how much wattage and from what distances delivers the right amount of full-spectrum lighting to the bird(s) and how that varies with species.

Wattage versus Placement:
An obvious placement issue is that a tall cage forces the light to be farther away from a bird than can be had with a short cage. The strength of the light that reaches a bird depends on the lamp's wattage and its distance to the bird. The farther away the light, the more wattage required to deliver a specified strength of light to the bird. If the bird doesn't get enough intensity of exposure the lighting setup is not adequate. My question really goes to this point.

Can you provide guidelines for combinations of bulb wattage versus distance required to assure that the bird receives the proper amount and intensity of lighting exposure?

Relationship to Species:
Also, how might this vary with species?

You mentioned that there should be a relationship based on what a bird's natural environment would provide.

Is this relationship known?

In my immediate case, is it known for Lories and specifically for Yellow-bibbed Lories. They come from the East Solomon islands in Oceania at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Additional sources:
If you do not know this information, can you direct me to a good source?

Thank you again for your help,
Frank

Aug 22, 2011
Full spectrum lighting placement
by: Tracie

For birds from arid regions (ie. African Greys) that receive significant sunlight exposure, position the bulb so that it is 12" above your bird when sitting on the highest perch. For birds that receive less sunlight in nature, the bulb can be positioned 18" above the bird when sitting on the highest perch.

DO NOT position the bulb where the bird will have to look into the bulb to look out of the cage. The bulb should be above the bird at all times.

You should put a favorite toy or a water bottle and food dish at a perch that is within range of the full spectrum light so that the bird will spend time within the proper distance of the full spectrum light.

Click here to add your own comments