Do African Greys Need UV Light? (Yes… If)

The African Grey parrots are very good pets that need adequate lighting, just like every other bird.

When you bring them into your home, you should know that you’re also putting them off in a new habitat far different from their natural habitat. 

There are different types of lights to introduce your Parrots to.

Do African Greys Need UV light?

Yes, African Grey Parrots need sunlight and UV light to naturally prevent common ailments such as calcium deficiency and feather plucking. Introducing spectrum lighting can improve the environmental changes that will favor African Greys.

However, no matter how much you try, it’s not just possible for you to truly replicate their true habitat – the rainforest – in your home. 

Nevertheless, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that the new habitat looks a bit closer to the natural habitat of your African Grey parrots. 

One of these things is the provision of UV light for your African Greys.

This takes us back to the question, “do African Greys need UV light?” they definitely do.

This post explains the reasons why UV light is very important to African Greys Parrots. Read on.  

What type of lighting is best for African Grey Parrots

When most people are creating a new habitat for their African Grey parrots, they fail to consider lighting. 

Although not all “special” lightings are truly necessarily vital to your parrot’s well-being, full-spectrum lights offer plenty of health benefits for your parrots that you might not have even thought of because of the UV rays it contains. 

So, if you haven’t included UV light in the new habitat for your African Greys, then you need to consider it now. 

Though UV light is not so beneficial to all birds, it is very beneficial to most parrots, including the African Greys.

Hence, it is well worth considering adding a UV light to the African Greys environment.

African Greys are very popular pets, but also require very high maintenance. 

The lack of this high maintenance makes pet African Grey parrots susceptible to several different common health problems. 

Fortunately, most of the common ailments and health problems peculiar to the African Grey, which include calcium deficiency and feather plucking, can be easily resolved with the introduction of natural sunlight or full-spectrum lighting because both sources contain UV light.

What about Sunlight? Do African Grey Parrots like it?

The introduction of your African Grey parrot to natural sunlight or a full-spectrum light system can increase the calcium intake of your parrot. 

Also, when a parrot preens its feathers, it spreads oil over them from its Uropygial gland, which is placed at the base of its tail. 

In the presence of UV lights (UVA and UVB rays), this oil undergoes a chemical reaction that changes the oil into vitamin D3. 

When the parrot preens again, it ingests the vitamin D3 from its feathers. This vitamin D3 is necessary for the parrot to be able to extract calcium from their diet via their digestive tract.

Most times, people place the birdcage housing for their African Grey by the window. 

This is not effective enough for the production of vitamin D3 because most home windows filter out the necessary UV lights (UVA and UVB rays) required to synthesize the vitamin D3 from the Uropygial gland oil.

According to avian veterinarians, African Grey parrots should be given adequate access to lots of sunlight and fresh air. 

This will keep their circadian rhythm (internal clocks) operating properly.

It’s generally believed that when this circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to depression and, consequently, to feather plucking in African Grey parrots.

This problem is predominant with African Grey parrots in countries with cold winter weather. 

In such a country, the cold winter weather causes a lack of or insufficient natural sunlight. Also, people find it hard to open windows for their parrots during this weather.

What is UV Light (UVA and UVB Light)?

Simply put, UV light is part of the invisible spectrum of light that is emitted by the sun daily.

UV light contains UVA and UVB rays. The UVA ray is the longest of the UV light and accounts for about 95 percent of the radiation from the sun.

The UVB light isn’t as intense as UVA and can’t pass through windows or any other pieces of glass. 

The normal domestic indoor and outdoor lights don’t emit any UVA or UVB ray. 

This means your African Grey won’t get any UV light when you place its birdcage in the normal domestic indoor and outdoor lights.

Now that you know that African Greys need UV light, you need to expose your parrot to an adequate supply of sunlight. 

Although you can keep your parrot in the sunlight with you as you spend time together in the garden, such time is limited. 

Therefore, it becomes very essential to provide an artificial source of UV light through or full-spectrum lighting.

What Are the Benefits of UV Light to African Greys?

Here are a few benefits of UV light to your African Grey parrot:

UV light (UVA and UVB) improves the psychological health of your parrot. This helps to stop some destructive behaviors in your parrot, which include feather plucking. 

UV light also improves the appetite, feather condition, and general health of your African Grey parrot. 

UV light is also very important for improving the vision of your parrot. Unlike human beings, parrots can see the full spectrum of UV light because they have specialized retinas that enable them to do so. 

Hence, without UV, parrots are effectively color-blind.

Under UV light, colors are more prominent. For instance, red color appears redder and blue color appears bluer. 

This makes any item (toys, foods, etc.) that are brightly colored become much more appealing to African Grey parrots.

African Grey parrots use the extensive range of colors unlocked by UV light to find foods, identify their mates, and recognize different species. 

Their feathers reflect UV light and as plumage is a key factor to birds when choosing a mate, breeding is more successful when UV light is present.

UVB plays a very vital role in the health of your parrot. UVB enables your parrot to produce vitamin D3 in their skin or through a special process involving the preening gland. 

This vitamin D3 is necessary to metabolize calcium, which parrots use to maintain normal growth, build and maintain strong bones, and produce eggs. 

Absence or inadequate UVB may lead to calcium deficiency (if calcium is also not supplied as a supplement) and can have crippling and fatal effects.

Making The Most of UV Lights

As stated above, it may be impossible to keep your parrot in the sun always, which is very necessary.

However, you can use full-spectrum lamps or UV bird lamps to replicate natural sunlight. 

These lamps are very useful in the cold winter months when the hours of daylight are very short and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors is greatly reduced. 

These lamps can also be used during the warmer, summer months, especially if your birdcage is behind windows – remember some essential UV rays can’t pass through glass windows.

Why do African Grey Parrots need UV light?

African Greys need UV light as UV light is very important to their health and general wellness. 

From feather plucking to calcium deficiencies, the most common health problems of African Grey parrots can be resolved by exposing them to the proper amount of full-spectrum lighting.

Although UV light for African Grey parrots is not a life or death choice, it will definitely improve the life and overall health of your parrot. 

If you want to replicate the best and closest option to a natural habitat, then you will most certainly want to choose one of these full-spectrum lights or UV lights for your parrot in your house.

When choosing a full-spectrum lamp or UV lamp for your birdcage, make sure that you don’t pick one that emits heat. 

Final takeaway

Using a lamp that emits heat for your birdcage will only put your birds under tremendous duress and may do more harm to your parrot than good. 

Instead, use light sources that do not emit heat and are avian-friendly. 

Heat-emitting lights will only warm up the birdcage and make the birdcage uncomfortable for your birds. 

As much as possible, avoid heat-emitting light sources. They are very dangerous for your birds.