Do Cockatiels Need UV Light? (What You Should Know)

Cockatiels are exceptional pet birds due to their cuddly, expressive, and loving nature. It’s very important to keep your cockatiel happy.

This means keeping your bird in an environment similar to its habitat and keeping the bird safe from hidden dangers.

Aside from being intelligent and attractive, cockatiels are hardy birds and you can easily take care of them.

One way to take care of your cockatiel is to expose them to an adequate supply of UV light.

Read on to know why cockatiels need UV light and how to expose them to an adequate supply of UV light.

What is UV?

UV light is a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. As seen in the picture below, UV is adjacent to the visible light portion to the right.

UV light is measured with the UV index (UVI), which measures the intensity of UV lights (UVA, UVB, UVC) produced by the sun or a UV bulb.

Typically, the higher the UVI, the more intense the UV radiation. Generally, UV light with a UVI of less than 5 is considered safe.

Do Cockatiels Need UV Light?

Yes, cockatiels need UV light for their health and well-being. Typically, cockatiels require adequate exposure to UV light daily.

UV light (UVA and UVB) preventsthe deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D3 in your cockatiels.

The deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D3 in your cockatiels can lead to serious health problems.

Also, depriving cockatiels of UV light will make them go color blind.

Several studies have also suggested that UVA light helps in eliminating or reducing the rate of abnormal behaviors, such as aggression, phobias, screaming, feather damaging disorders, etc., in cockatiels.

Other Benefits of UV Light

As seen above, the UV light spectrum consists of three kinds of UV radiations, which are the UVA, UVB, and UVC.

Just like the reptiles, birds can see UVA, which helps their color rendition to select ripe foods and identify mates.

UVB, with a short-wavelength, enables cockatiels and other birds to produce vitamin D (referred to as the sunshine vitamin), which is necessary for immune function and calcium metabolism.

Normally, UVC is filtered out by the earth’s ozone layer and doesn’t exist naturally on earth.

Nevertheless, UVC can be created synthetically and is usually used for microbial sterilization.

Although exposure to UV light is beneficial, exposure to high doses of UVA and UVB radiation can also lead to inflammation of the skin, eyelids, and cornea.

Alternative Source of UV Light for Cockatiels

Natural daylight (sunlight) is the major source of UV light required by cockatiels and cockatiels must be kept outside daily to be exposed to an adequate supply of UV light.

However, considering the climate and other factors, it may not be possible to keep your cockatiels outside daily.

Placing them near the window seems like another option. But your birds will only be exposed to ineffective filtered light.

Hence, there is a need for a light source to supply the necessary UV light or at least supplement it.

The only light source that mimics natural daylight and supplies UV light is the full-spectrum light. Therefore, the use of a full-spectrum light for your cockatiels is vital.

Full-spectrum bulbs – UVA/UVB bulbs and avian floor lamps – are a necessary part of your cockatiels’ basic environmental needs.

Now you know that cockatiels need UV light. Here are summary key points on the need for UV light.

Key Points

  • The benefits of UV light warrant that cockatiels should receive some exposure.
  • UV light can help maintain good bone density and can help stimulate exercise.
  • Most windows filter out the beneficial UVB rays that help birds produce Vitamin D. Hence, it’s not ideal to keep birdcages behind windows.
  • Natural sun exposure (i.e. taking your bird outside) for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week in the warmer months is ideal.
  • When exposing your cockatiels to the natural sunlight, make sure they are in a cage or wearing a harness to prevent accidental escape.
  • The ideal outdoor temperature is between 65 to 85°F (18 to 29°C).
  • Watch out for overheating symptoms (panting, wings held away from the body).
  • During the winter, UVB bulbs are recommended.
  • Birds on a poor diet (i.e. all seed and therefore calcium deficient) and birds that are chronic egg-layers will especially benefit from year-round UVB light.
  • Full-spectrum bulbs are necessary to mimic the mid-morning sun and produce UV lights.
  • The exposure time of birds to UV lights and distance of the UV lights from the birds depend on the type of full-spectrum bulb used.
  • Generally, the full-spectrum bulb for birds should be on for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours daily.
  • Always mount the full-spectrum bulb above the birdcage and not to the side.
  • Always provide a UV gradient so the bird can move away from the light if it wants to.
  • In general, high output bulbs should be no closer than 6in. (15 cm) and low output bulbs should be no further than 12in. (30 cm) from the top of the bird’s head at its highest perching location.
  • It is recommended that linear tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs are used rather than mercury vapor floodlights.
  • Read the package instructions for your full-spectrum bulb and use the bulb at the recommended distance from the bird.
  • Discontinue the use of the full-spectrum bulb once you notice any squinting, face rubbing, or redness of the skin around the eyes.
  • Full-spectrum bulbs should be replaced every 6 months because UV output will decrease over time.

Caution

Your cockatiel needs sunlight, but too much sunlight is bad as cockatiels are sensitive to heat.

Therefore, avoid keeping your cockatiels in a place where they will be exposed to direct sunlight, especially for a very long time.

Nevertheless, your birds should still be able to see out of a window while happily kept in its birdcage.

Keeping your birdcage too close to a window can also expose your birds to dangerous drafts which may kill your cockatiels.

When you need a full-spectrum light, avoid getting a reptile light. Reptile light is not safe for cockatiel and other birds.

Reptile lights have way too much UVB for birds and can burn a bird’s eyes. A full-spectrum light made for either humans or birds is fine.

Summary

Generally, full-spectrum lighting is vital for a captive bird’s health because of the UV light it contains.

From the post above, it can be seen that cockatiels also need UV light for the production of vitamin D and other benefits.

Place the UV light 6in. to 12in. from the birdcage. Leave the UV light on for about four to eight hours daily for optimum benefit. During the overnight hours, cover the birdcage to provide darkness.

Are you looking forward to buying a UV light bulb for your cockatiel? Here are some of the best UV light bulbs to consider:

Comyan Light UV-C 8W 110V Bulb

This is an efficient and high-quality 8W UV light bulb. It provides excellent performance for your cockatiels. This12.2in.

UV light bulb provides a stronger wavelength of 253.7nm that will ensure maximum services.

It is easy to use and features an easy on-and-off switch.

Hmount UV Sanitizer 60W UV Germicidal UVC Lamp

This is the ultimate UV light bulb that guarantees excellent performance. This UV lamp is portable, lightweight, and comes with a wireless remote control system for easy regulation of the device.

This product provides about 254nm wavelength that provides effective sterilization ad comfort for your cockatiel. Aside from its durability, it also has a very rugged construction.

GeMoor UV Light Sanitizer 38W UV Lamp

This product features a powerful and efficient UV light bulb with a 38W power supply.

It has an elegant round design for 360° sterilization. It is portable and lightweight and can be used for any birdcage.

This product also has a wider non-slip base for better support on most surfaces.