More About the Importance of Lighting for Captive Birds

More About the Importance of Lighting for Captive Birds

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Birdcage 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 – an almost 4-year-old male Bodini Amazon, a 2-year-old male Blue-headed Pionus, and a feisty 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.


They spend most of the day out of their cages in their room or in other rooms of the house with me on stands. So, that being said should I be making other lighting arrangements. I ask because you say to put the light above their cages, but I assume that is for birds that spend more time in their cages than mine?



There is a bit of screaming on and off. There seems to be more lately for reasons I can’t figure out? Idk if it’s light-related or not?


My second question is about food. I wonder if you suggest something different than what I am doing? They eat Zupreem fruit pellets as their primary diet, but they also get fresh vegetables, and Higgins fruit and nut mix fairly freely.


I would love your opinion and suggestions for my flock. Thank you so much for your time!



Hi Donna – Thank you for writing.


”Repetitio est mater studiorum” (“Repetition is the mother of learning”)


Other than keeping the bird room from darkness the overhead bulb in the bird room doesn’t bring much to the party. Having lights above the cages is only half the equation.


Clamp fixture full spectrum bulb and timer for fixing a parrots hormones

Clamp fixture full spectrum bulb and timer
for fixing a parrots hormones – $35

A timer is essential to indicate to your birds when the day begins and ends. You may have a morning routine during the week when you come into the room every morning, turn on the bird room light, and uncover the cages.


But if you sleep in on the weekend, even if the ceiling light was on a timer, the cages are probably covered.


Birds don’t know what day it is but they can tell time more accurately than a Rolex. Having a consistent light source is one of the many signals the pineal gland signals “well-being” messages to our birds.


We currently have a Senegal and 4 budgies – the budgies have their cage and Peaches has hers. They are in the same “space” but they can’t see each other when caged.


The times go on and off at 7:30 am/pm respectively. When daylight savings time arrives – we make no changes and the time will then be 8:30 on/off consistently through the summer.


Peaches has bonded with me, she tolerates Catherine. Normally Catherine is up early and will uncover Peaches (and The Breakfast Club) when her light comes on.


This morning she left for work early. I got up about 8, uncovered Peaches cage (now 40 minutes late, opened the door, sought a step up as I always do – but got bit. I never get bit. I instantly knew it was Peaches communicating to me, her unhappiness at the delayed cage unveiling.



I closed the cage door, came back in 10 minutes and she was happy to hop on my shoulder so we could embark on our morning chores. This takes us to your screaming issue.


Days are now once again getting longer which is very confusing to birds. I haven’t found a lot of information on cross-species communication but this is an interesting article assuming the parrotlet is part of the conversation.


When birds scream, they are communicating. Your ‘zons might be saying “Hey, where’s the girls? – we have urges”. Is the screaming more pronounced in the bird room or when they are out and about the house with you?


Which now takes us to the food issue (all bird issues are intertwined) Before I get into food recommendations, how is food dispensed to your birds? Dishes filled with an unlimited supply of kibble in their cages and stands?


Lack of enrichment can be a contributing factor The screaming could be “WE’RE BORED – WE ATE AND NOW GOT NUTTIN’ TO DO ‘CEPT WATCH YOU”.


This is one of my favorite videos. Birds with a cage filled with endless food sources next to interactive toys where getting food is a difficult task.



To the food question. Zupreem adds sugar to its pellets for palatability making it very popular with birds. I question how that sugar affects birds for the 6 hours it spends in their crop. Sugar has a low ph making it acidic – for 6 hours.


I’d recommend either of these. Higgins Sunburst Parrot Or Higgins Safflower Gold.


Both blends have seeds fruits nuts and pellets providing more of an enrichment diet. Fresh vegetables and Higgins fruit and nut could still be part of the diet. Just try to make it fun 🙂


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing


Your zygodactyl footnote



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