The Secret of Do Birds in Cages Suffer All Their Lives?

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I’ve often said the perfect size cage for a Green Wing Macaw is 30 acres. Many birds can and do suffer miserably in cages. There are ways we can offset the majority of the stress for our captive birds — but many of us do not.

Full transparency — I’m companion to one Senegal parrot and four budgies. That in and of itself does not make me an expert. What makes me an expert is my 15 years of interacting with tens of thousands of captive bird owners while operating the Windy City Parrot website

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Does UV Light Really Help Produce Vitamin D3 in Birds?

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Have you ever wished you could see the additional ultraviolet light spectrum that birds can?

I’ve been a strong proponent of using light cycles to interrupt the circadian rhythms of our pet birds 

I’m also fully convinced that no amount of artificial lighting over birdcage will help a bird produce vitamin D3 regardless of the lumens, quality of the ultraviolet spectrum emitted or the distance from the light source to the cage 

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.>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:

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.

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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.

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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
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