How Caged Bird Keepers Get The Lighting Thing Wrong

3 budgies on tree branch with bright sunlight behind
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This gland acts as an input mechanism for light data.


All birds use this light coming into the pineal gland to help determine when to breed, molt and migrate.


The gland also contains many melatonin cells that vibrate like micro metronomes.


Although a bird cannot tell what day it is, it knows what time it is precisely as a Rolex because of these vibrating melatonin cells


99.9% of cage bird keepers get the lighting thing wrong.


The quality of light has little use for a bird.


It’s the light cycle that means everything.


I can’t tell you how many behavioral issues we have helped our customers birds simply by installing a full-spectrum bulb in a fixture, no more than 6 inches over the cage on a timer.


20180912 111549 How Caged Bird Keepers Get The Lighting Thing Wrong

Windy City Parrot’s budgie aviary


The distance is very important as a 15,000 LUX light bulb emits only 700 LUX at a 20 inch distance (Google “inverse square law of light”).


The timer needs to be set for 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.


The birds should be in the cage when the light comes on in the morning and goes off for the night.


This signals to the bird the beginning and the end of the day which is close to their instinctual expectations of equatorial light cycles.


We’ve also found great efficacy in stopping chronic masturbation and prolific egg laying in birds by using extended light cycles (72 – 168 hours) with no need for drugs (like Lupron or Haldon).


Feel free to fact check me with Dr. Gregory Harrison the creator of Harrison’s bird food.


The folks at HARI, the  Hagen Avicultural Research Institute who have housed about 250 breeding pairs of wild caught and domestic parrots for the past 30 years for use in development of the Hagen bird food line and testing of things like light cycles.


In conjunction with the folks at Ontario Veterinary College | University of Guelph HARI has determined the importance of artificial light cycles for birds and that light has no effect in the production of vitamin D3 in birds because of their integumentary system (feathers).


best of luck



Bill T had this to add about the birds and lighting discussion:

Attn: Mitchr

Something I passed over casually before in the “We got it wrong” blog on ‘full spectrum light’ just was noticed.

Info for more understanding,

I hope you include this if mentioned, in future articles.


“The pineal gland is photo-receptive in all non-mammalian vertebrates, but not in mammals.

The only non-visual photo-receptors in mammals are intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cells in the retina.

The parapineal and similar pineal-associated structures are only found in non-mammalian vertebrates.

(The quail’s light-sensing neurons are tucked within the paraventricular organ.)

The iris is intrinsically photo-receptive in non-mammalian vertebrates and perhaps in some mammals.

The locations of non-visual photo-receptors in the deep brain varies among the non-mammalian vertebrates. 

The fact is humans and most mammals have very similar if not identical NON-visual photo receptors to parrots and other Aves (The vertebrate class Aves includes the birds, an extremely distinctive and successful clade, with an estimated 9000 species worldwide, including the snowy owl), including our pineal gland, hypothalamus and non-visual retinal photo receptors (NOT rods and cones, as yet uncharacterized but proven to exist) which function in increasingly complex ways we are still discovering.


He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.