The Benefits of Sunlight for your Bird
Sufficient exposure to natural sunlight and sufficient sleep in a dark environment, are both vital to the physical and emotional health of your pet bird. If other more obvious causes have been ruled out by an avian veterinarian, an ill-tempered or sickly bird may very well be suffering from a lack of sunlight and/or a lack of sleep.
As with humans, sunlight allows for the activation of Vitamin D in your bird, which among other things facilitates proper calcium absorption. Calcium is essential for a host of functions other than the most widely touted – that of building bone strength. It is not uncommon for avian veterinarians to be presented with birds suffering from hypocalcaemia – a type of electrolyte disturbance measured by the presence of low serum calcium levels in the blood. This is often as a direct result of a Vitamin D deficiency brought about by insufficient sunlight. Hypocalcaemia can cause a bird to have seizures, muscle spasms and weakness. African Grey parrots are particularly susceptible to hypocalcaemia.
Ideally a pet bird should be allowed between four and six hours of sunlight each day, or as close to that as possible. Bird-owners who are out at work all day, should ensure that their bird is in a spot that receives some sunlight at some time during the day. Unfortunately, as most window glass has been treated to prevent ultraviolet rays from passing through, birds that are in a sunny spot indoors do not get the benefit of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, nevertheless this filtered sunlight is better than none at all.
Other benefits of a daily dose of sunshine are the promotion of a healthy appetite, improved feather quality and color, while stimulating a natural molting cycle and preventing hormone imbalances. Additionally, natural sunlight will do wonders for your bird’s disposition, making it more cheerful and more sociable. Prolonged periods with no natural light can make a bird sluggish, grumpy and depressed, and as we have seen, even physically ill.
So, with a sufficient amount of quality sleep (between ten and twelve hours per night), regular natural sunlight and the correct diet, your bird is likely to be a very happy member of your household.