What factors affect the lifespan of parrots?

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One day I’ll stop apologizing for stepping on toes. Although I have great respect for my esteemed associate who answered this question previously (on Quora)  I have a totally different point of view.

The most influential factor in determining the lifespan of any companion bird in captivity, in and of itself – is daylight and the daily duration of light vs darkness.

50 million years of hard wiring for an animal to believe that he or she can go where they want anytime changes the moment they occupy a bird cage.

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The bird of time: cognition and the avian biological (circadian) clock

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Front Mol Neurosci. 2012; 5: 32.
Published online 2012 Mar 22. Prepublished online 2012 Feb 1. doi:  10.3389/fnmol.2012.00032
PMCID: PMC3309970The bird of time: cognition and the avian biological clock
 
abstract

Avian behavior and physiology are embedded in time at many levels of biological organization. Biological clock function in birds is critical for sleep/wake cycles, but may also regulate the acquisition of place memory, learning of song from tutors, social integration, and time-compensated navigation.

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More about the importance of lighting for captive birds

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Bird cage lighting for 3 parrots

Hi Mitch,

I am fairly new to reading your blog, so I hope I am not asking questions that are too redundant. I have three birds – a almost 4 year old male Bodini Amazon, a 2 year old male Blue-headed Pionus, and a fiesty little female Parrotlet. I have two questions really.

First , I would like to know if what I am currently doing is adequate or not. My birds have their own room where their cages are. The room is furnished with a fountain, a tree, hanging toys, etc. – basically a parrot playground. There is only one overhead light in the room that is just an LED daylight bulb.

Continue reading “More about the importance of lighting for captive birds” »

Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

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Questions about birds I answered on Quora the week of 3/13/17

Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

I can’t speak to power lines but I know that Quaker parrots are colonial animals. They build large nests where a whole colony can live enabling them to survive brutal Chicago winters.

A heat source they seek out and build their nests in is electrical transformers. CommEd has access to a number of Quaker rescues who will come and get the birds when requested.

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5 Ways to reduce hormonal bird behavior before you see the avian vet

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Hypothetical – a 21st century genie sits down next you on a park bench. He looks pretty normal and explains that the whole genie thing has evolved along with modern society.

The dapper young lad named Gene (really?) goes on to say;

“The new rules are that you still get three wishes but “me” the genie decides what they are? It’ll be fun.

Wish number one is from this point forward you will have the ability to fly.

It gets better.

Continue reading “5 Ways to reduce hormonal bird behavior before you see the avian vet” »

Wondering if you can guide me on care of my umbrella cockatoo.

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Wondering if you can guide me with the care of my umbrella. Her vet is away on sick leave for a few months. I am her third owner.

I live in a two-room 35 ft camper trailer with six dogs and the bird. She likes to be around them – in her cage – and when they get treats she expects ( and gets) her own. They are her flock.

She has been a feather shredder since long before she came to me, about three years ago. She is also very indifferent to food. Her owner before me cared for her well and tried her hardest to get her to fresh fruit and veg. Her primary diet is Zupreem fruit blend, though specific preference is the pink. But she isn’t even very interested in eating.

Continue reading “Wondering if you can guide me on care of my umbrella cockatoo.” »

Hormonal changes are coming to your bird this spring what’s your plan?

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Americans have the ACLU – Captive birds in America have us.

Part of a call from Hawaii at the Birdie Boutique

“I suggest72 hours of constant light, meaning the bird would be in its cage for 3 days, with the lights on”.

Cage birdkeepers response “she’ll never go for something like that

My email response

As an advocate for pet birds, I wanted to follow up on your lovebird’s reproductive issues.

If a child is sick, he or she does not determine whether or not to accept care.

Although you state your bird would “have nothing to do with it” – she can easily be locked in a cage for three days for her own good so as to extend her life.

Continue reading “Hormonal changes are coming to your bird this spring what’s your plan?” »

Bird cage lighting need not be so complicated

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Attn. Mitch Rezman

Fluorescent lights.

The recent post here on Vit. D led me to more research. It appears most if not all of the Windy City Full Spectrum lights have simple magnetic ballasts, producing visible flicker. This is proven for chickens and assumed for the likely better eyes of psitticines with their mainly flying lifestyle.

High frequency electronic ballasts are now standard for indoor fluorescents where human health is a consideration as the high frequency flicker is far faster than our visual system can perceive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_ballast>Electronic Ballasts) Commonly about 3500 Hz in Compact Fluorescent Lights. HF ballasts are now competitive with previous mains rate (120Hz) magnetic ballasts products and are offered in full spectrum phosphors lights.

Dr. Mercola (Mercola Health Resources, LLC, no connection, yada yada) now offers these in ratings at least as good as any Windy City presently does in a 30w bulb.

I’m guessing if the current stock at Windy City had high frequency electronic ballasts, this would be advertised. If not, it Should. As perceptible flicker is considered an environmental stressor in humans and other higher life forms, some investigation may reveal the source that Dr. Mercola is using and birds will benefit from the particularly targeted messages and products Windy City distributes.

Other notes: It needs mentioning that only specially designed compact fluorescent bulbs are compatible with most home light dimmers, none of which are conventional magnetic ballasts, and not all electronic ballasts. Dr. Mercola’s don’t seem to be. Of the suitable electronic ballasts, it’s still recommended they be used at full capacity for >100 hours before any dimming, or they darken and lose service life.

Opthalmologists, other MDs and archival museum people will also caution that full spectrum lighting has serious downsides! We do not have eyes that will survive full time UV outdoor exposure without increased risk of cataracts. Eventually All get them, the question is at how young of age. (Mine were at 58) Birds I observe also do Not spend time in the Sun when not necessary. Shade of some sort is common to all roosts other than predators watching for opportunities to feed.

Household windows filter 100% of all ultraviolet light which helps prevent the fading of your homes furnishings.

For other downsides of fluorescent lighting (Mostly associated with UV, no specific mention of Flicker.) see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamps_and_health

Museums and art galleries specifically forbid Full Spectrum lighting as it’s well understood how many materials including most art pigments are degraded far more by UV light than by the normal human visual spectrum.

This has real implications. I’m just starting with indoor full spectrum lights and plan to shade the computer display with it’s sensitive phosphors from direct light from the UV bulbs.

I’m also working on shading my Cockatoo’s usual perches but leaving others in direct view. It needs constant repeating that a bird with a full spectrum light too close by risks damage to their eyes and skin, just as we do. Our parrots have enough problems without being blind from cataracts. I’ve seen a couple.

I’m greatly prefer someone doing adequate tests with modern full spectrum sensor equipment of All available lights and publishing measured UVA and UVB intensities at useful ranges of distances, particularly Too Close. Few are going to calculate intensity from any one figure even if they do understand area square rule.

In service of all the parrots we love

Bill

Hi Bill

It is good to see that you understand the inverse square law of light (and sound and energy) but have you ever run the numbers? A 1000 lm lamp on top of a 4 foot tall (interior height) birdcage to displays only 84 lm on the floor the cage.

Thus shading your computer displays from the direct UV rays you think the bulbs are emiting is literally like protecting the screens from the light of a lit candle

Let’s start with part of Wikipedia’s definition of full-spectrum

“Full-spectrum” is not a technical term when applied to an electrical light bulb but rather a marketing term implying that the product emulates natural light.

Products marketed as “full-spectrum” may produce light throughout the entire spectrum, but actually do not produce an even spectral distribution, and may not even differ substantially from lights not marketed as “full-spectrum”.

Thus as stated on Mercola’s site:

‘Products marketed as “full-spectrum” may produce light throughout the entire spectrum, but actually do not produce an even spectral distribution, and may not even differ substantially from lights not marketed as “full-spectrum”’

Is a falsehood. As long as a full spectrum bulb is rated at 5500 K it’s full-spectrum regardless of UVA or UVB

Again from Wikipedia

The CRI of a light source does not indicate the apparent color of the light source; that information is under the rubric of the correlated color temperature (CCT). In the pictures at right it can be noticed that the spectra have different structures; the incandescent lamp has a continuous spectrum, whereas the fluorescent lamp has separate lines in the spectrum due to emission of photons of discrete wavelengths by mercury.

The value often quoted as ‘CRI’ on commercially available lighting products is properly called the CIE Ra value, ‘CRI’ being a general term and CIE Ra being the international standard color rendering index.

Numerically, the highest possible CIE Ra value is 100, and would only be given to a source identical to standardized daylight or a black body (incandescent lamps are effectively black bodies), dropping to negative values for some light sources. 

Low-pressure sodium lighting has negative CRI; fluorescent lights range from about 50 for the basic types, up to about 90 for the best tri-phosphor type. Typical LEDs have about 80+ CRI, while some manufacturers claim that their LEDs have achieved up to 98 CRI.

Further full spectrum LED lighting is becoming mainstream Items we hope to be stocking soon.

Caveat: Birds and full spectrum lighting. We got it wrong.

Best of luck,

mitchr

approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino
approved by kerry (magic) gibbons

your zygodactyl footnote

Are Himalayan Salt Lamps to Parrots what Coal Mines Were to Canaries?

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Editor’s note: some of you may remember my journey enabling my mother’s return to Chicago Arlene (my mom) has been on five of the seven continents. Eight years ago at the tender age of 76 she spent three weeks traveling to China.

The Himalayas span five countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China (Tibet), and Pakistan, with the first three countries having sovereignty over most of the range. At the time, China had not closed the border to Tibet and she was able to spend three days there. According to mom the majesty, environment and the purity of the air you breathe in the Himalayas – cannot be understated.

Continue reading “Are Himalayan Salt Lamps to Parrots what Coal Mines Were to Canaries?” »

Why do green parrots have no green feather pigments and why are their feathers different from other bird feathers?

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Hi Mitch

I recently inherited a Yellow Naped Amazon and love her to pieces, but not being a bird person previously, I could use some advice. He is guessed to be about 50 years old, actually, I was told that Rhoda is a female but, she has never laid eggs so they say she is a he!

No matter, I have noticed some of his feathers have black coloring on them. Is it true that could be caused by him not getting enough sunlight? His cage is in front of a window, but the window has a sun screen on it. What is needed to provide “sun” for him in his cage? I would also like to purchase a “Happy Hut” for him but I need to know what size I should order. 

Thanks for any help you can give me and I welcome any advice!

Ginger Oliveira
Continue reading “Why do green parrots have no green feather pigments and why are their feathers different from other bird feathers?” »

Bird Teflon dangers you didn’t know & other household perils

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 One of the first things new caged bird keepers learn is that Teflon is bad for your bird which is pretty well-known. The statement “I threw out all my Teflon cookware before I brought my bird home” can be found on the internet as often as Lady Gaga changes hairstyles.
 
The potential danger of Teflon does go beyond cookware so I wanted to give you a little background
 

Continue reading “Bird Teflon dangers you didn’t know & other household perils” »

Birds and Full Spectrum Lighting

Read in 3 minutes
Attn. Mitch Rexman
Fluorescent lights.
The recent post here on Vit. D led me to more research. It appears most if not all of the Windy City Full Spectrum lights have simple magnetic ballasts, producing visible flicker. 
 
This is proven for chickens and assumed for the likely better eyes of psitticines with their mainly flying lifestyle. High frequency electronic ballasts are now standard for indoor fluorescents where human health is a consideration as the high frequency flicker is far faster than our visual system can perceive. 
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_ballast>Electronic Ballasts) Commonly about 3500 Hz in Compact Fluorescent Lights. HF ballasts are now competitive with previous mains rate (120Hz) magnetic ballasts products and are offered in full spectrum phosphors lights. 
 
Dr. Mercola (Mercola Health Resources, LLC, no connection, yada yada) now offers these in ratings at least as good as any Windy City presently does in a 30w bulb. At similar prices. See their web site for published spectrum and other ratings: http://products.mercola.com/light-bulbs/
 
I’m guessing if the current stock at Windy City had high frequency electronic ballasts, this would be advertised. If not, it Should. As perceptible flicker is considered an environmental stressor in humans and other higher life forms, some investigation may reveal the source that Dr. Mercola is using and birds will benefit from the particularly targeted messages and products Windy City distributes.
 
Other notes: It needs mentioning that only specially designed compact fluorescent bulbs are compatible with most home light dimmers, none of which are conventional magnetic ballasts, and not all electronic ballasts. Dr. Mercola’s don’t seem to be. Of the suitable electronic ballasts, it’s still recommended they be used at full capacity for >100 hours before any dimming, or they darken and lose service life.
 
Opthalmologists, other MDs and archival museum people will also caution that full spectrum lighting has serious downsides! We do not have eyes that will survive full time UV outdoor exposure without increased risk of cataracts. Eventually All get them, the question is at how young of age. (Mine were at 58) Birds I observe also do Not spend time in the Sun when not necessary. Shade of some sort is common to all roosts other than predators watching for opportunities to feed.
 
For other downsides of fluorescent lighting (Mostly associated with UV, no specific mention of Flicker.) see: 
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamps_and_health
Museums and art galleries specifically forbid Full Spectrum lighting as it’s well understood how many materials including most art pigments are degraded far more by UV light than by the normal human visual spectrum. This has real implications. I’m just starting with indoor full spectrum lights and plan to shade the computer display with it’s sensitive phosphors from direct light from the UV bulbs. 
 
I’m also working on shading my Cockatoo’s usual perches but leaving others in direct view. It needs constant repeating that a bird with a full spectrum light too close by risks damage to their eyes and skin, just as we do. Our parrots have enough problems without being blind from cataracts. 
 
I’ve seen a couple. 
I’m greatly prefer someone doing adequate tests with modern full spectrum sensor equipment of All available lights and publishing measured UVA and UVB intensities at useful ranges of distances, particularly Too Close. Few are going to calculate intensity from any one figure even if they do understand area square rule.
 
In service of all the parrots we love