PHILIPS F17T8/TL950 Birds Tube Light
Bird Vision and Lighting
Birds need proper light to find and analyze food; to identify flock mates; to detect predators and
other dangers; to regulate daily cycles (sleep, feeding); and to regulate seasonal cycles (migration,
reproduction). Yet standard home lighting is inadequate for several reasons. It is far too dim, has
poor color spectrum, is often too red, has little-to-no ultraviolet, and is usually placed too low to
effectively illuminate a bird's environment. These deficiencies can lead to health and behavior
problems such as lethargy (inadequate brightness to fully trigger wakefulness), poor appetite
(food may not "look right"), phobias (difficulty identifying objects and detecting dangers), and
aggression (cannot recognizing flock mates), stress (from color imbalance), and reproductive
behavior (too much red light indicating breeding season).
Most human homes are not lit to a brightness level that is anywhere near appropriate for birds. In
fact, they cannot distinguish color at low-levels of light. Standard living room lighting is about
eight times dimmer than sunrise or sunset. To make matters worse, humans are generally poor
at noticing differences in brightness. Our eyes quickly adjust to low light conditions, giving us
the impression that our indoor lighting is much brighter than it actually is.
Proper avian lighting simulates sunlight as closely as possible, and because birds can see into the
NEAR UV-A (NOT UV-B), they need additional supplements, if possible. In addition, fullspectrum
lights that are targeted to humans, and have too low a CRI (color rendering index) and
far too high a temperature (too blue) for birds.
Adequate brightness: A minimum of 400 lux as a minimum, 1000 lux or more is preferable.
Concentration: Use mostly diffuse light, accented by a few brightly-lit areas.
Color spectrum: The ideal CRI (Color Rendering Index) is 100, which is the spectrum of the
midday sun. Use 93 CRI or above, 95 and above, if possible.
Color temperature: 5000 degrees K is perfect, up to 5700 degrees K is ok.
Ultraviolet: Provide UV-A supplemental light only and remember, you don’t need much. Our
atmosphere filters most of the UV from the sun.
Placement: Placement is critical to proper lighting. To mimic sunlight, place the brightest lights
above the cage and to the side, not directly overhead.
Distance: Place lights a few feet from the cage, remember the inverse square law.
Variable lighted areas: In nature, birds fly in and out of direct sunlight and spend much of their
day in the filtered light of trees. Provide areas (in or out of the cage) for your bird to get shade.
Windows: Use natural windows to raise illumination (brightness) and improve CRI (color). DO
NOT leave your bird in front of a window in direct sun!
Fluorescent tubes: Use high-CRI fluorescent tubes as a good source of diffuse light. The 5000
degree K models (Philips TL-950s) are the right temperature. In addition, these bulbs are not
expensive. Because they contain mercury, mount them so that they do not fall in an earthquake.
Proper ballasts (fixtures): Use electronic ballasts (fixtures) with fittings.
Blacklights: High-CRI is shielded against UV. Use fluorescent tubes labeled blacklight to provide
UV-A supplemental light. These lights peak out at 345-380 nm (near UV-A). Put these bulbs on a
timer to reduce the chance of over-exposure. Remember, you don’t need much UV. And, be sure
use a reflective, unpainted fixture. The paint used in most fixtures now absorbs UV, which
completely defeats the purpose of using these bulbs. When including a blacklight with
fluorescent tubes, use one blacklight for every four tubes, to accomplish a correct balance of UV
that simulates sunlight.
Halogen solux: Use high-CRI, 5000 degree K, halogen bulbs (Solux makes them) for concentrated
light. These lights can be put on a dim timer and you can use a diffuser so that the light is not as
intense. Always mount these lights on the ceiling, since you do not want people or birds looking
directly into them. Shine them on a playstand or some play area that birds can get away from if
they want. These bulbs will not provide the base, overall lighting solution. They should be
considered as a supplement that provides concentrated light on a few areas.
Compact fluorescent full-spectrum: The CRI is only 91, which is on the low end for birds; and
the temperature is 5500 K, so they are a bit too blue, but still within the acceptable range. Because
they are a bent tube, they will develop hot spots causing the CRI to degrade, so you need to
replace them often. However, if you cannot mount tubes, these are probably better than standard,
incandescent home lighting