Most Parrots originate from sub-tropical climates close to the equator where they receive 12-13 hours of total darkness every day. Their bodies are programmed to be extremely sensitive to changes in the photo-period so that they don’t miss their species specific breeding season. As their days get longer, even by just an hour, the longer daylight hours activate hormones telling them its time to get busy! At this point, your birds primary focus in life is to make babies.
Most of us assume that our pet bird can keep the same hours we do. After all, our dogs rise and rest on our clock, why not the bird? Your bird will adapt to your hours, but at a price. It will always be in hormone over-drive. You see, in the wild, birds only experience hormonal surges during their short breeding season, when the days are a little longer than usual. The rest of the year, when they can get 10-12 hours of sleep a night, their hormones are essentially dormant.
So, if you’re like most of us who get up early – say 6:30 or 7:00 – to go to work and then leave the lights on until 10:00 or 11:00 at night, your bird is exposed to a very long day! A few nights of that and its body wants to mate.
Controlling Lighting For A Better Behaved Bird
If you want your bird to be happy and healthy, shorten its daylight hours. Make sure that your bird has 10-12 hours of dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep. Coupled with other strategies to keep hormones in check, your bird will feel calmer and be a better companion.
Reduce sources of artificial light including LED lighting, TV’s, and night-lights. If your birds cage is near a window, use room darkening shades to eliminate light or use a cage cover. You can also create a sleep cage where your bird can slumber in complete darkness for 11-12 hours. When we got tired of our Moluccan waking up the entire neighborhood, we put him in a sleep cage in a completely dark area. Here is a picture of Peachy’s sleep cage.
In the winter months, you’ll want to use bird lights to insure that your bird isn’t sleeping too much. Using a Bird Specific Full Spectrum Light will help your bird regulate its body chemistry to maintain its sweet disposition. We like the Featherbrite Bird Light Systems. They’ve got two styles of lights, one that just has a daylight bulb and one for birds with night frights. Some birds experience night frights. While it may seem to make sense that offering a traditional night light will help the situation, opt for an avian specific night light instead. The Featherbrite Full Day Full Night Light is a perfect solution.
Let us know how you help your bird get the right amount of daylight in a comment below.