Budgies perceive light quite differently than humans. Not only the visible color spectrum of the light sources differs, but also the light frequency, which is perceived as flickering.
How do budgies see?
Every colour we perceive consists of light waves in a certain frequency range (wavelength in nanometres).
The human eye can see the colors red (565 – 620 Nm), green (510 – 540 Nm) and blue (450 – 480 Nm). Thus, the color spectrum that a human can perceive is in the range of 400 to 750 Nm (wavelength).
Budgerigars, on the other hand, can additionally see colors in the range of 300 to 400 Nm (UV light). While objects and surfaces in this colour range appear black, grey or diffuse to us, they are perceived as coloured by budgies.
The expanded color spectrum of birds enables them, for example, to better distinguish the degree of ripeness of fruits, berries or grasses, while these all look the same to humans. Furthermore, the colors in the plumage, which are not visible to us, help them to find a partner.
Light frequency problem
The eye of the budgerigar is also much more sensitive to the frequency of artificial light.
While the human eye already perceives light with a frequency of 50 Hz as flicker-free, this effect does not occur in the budgerigar until 150 Hz.
This means that a light that appears flicker-free to us exposes the budgie’s eye to constant flickering and thus sooner or later leads to nervousness, imbalance or even illness .
Thus, it is extremely important to use “flicker-free” lighting with frequency above 150 Hz in the room and above the budgie cage. For example, fluorescent tubes require a special electronic ballast (EB).
How can I tell if the lamp is flickering?
With a normal smartphone, you can easily test whether a light source flickers or flickers (= light flicker).
To do this, select the “Video” function for the camera on the smartphone and move the device as close as possible to the lamp (without recording!).
If the light flickers, you will see lighter and darker stripes on the screen (interference1Interference between the light frequency and the display frequency (usually 30 FPS)). The stronger the contrast between the light and dark stripes, the greater the brightness fluctuations and the stronger the flickering.
Attention: Lamps that can be dimmed should always be set to 100%, since dimming is usually done by pulse width modulation and thus inevitably leads to interference.
UV – light component
Especially for the light above the cage, in addition to the light frequency of the lighting, the emitted UV component in the light is of great importance, which should correspond to the habitat of the budgies (12% UVA & 2.4% UVB). This means that neither daylight lamps (no UV component) nor lamps for reptiles (different habitat) are suitable.
In addition to color perception, UV light has also been shown to be essential for the production of vitamin D3, as much of the UV radiation is absorbed by window panes indoors.
Bird Lamp or Bird Lamp
While for the normal room lighting a “flicker-free” illuminant is sufficient, one should use for the cage lighting for the reasons described above absolutely a “Bird Lamp” or bird lamp , which is not only flicker-free , but also a suitable UV portion possesses.
However, a “Bird-Lamp” usually needs to be replaced after 12 months (see instructions), as the UV radiation becomes weaker and weaker after a certain period of time.
Bird lamps are by and large offered as either fluorescent or compact (E27).
I personally prefer fluorescent tubes for the following reasons:
- Fluorescent tubes cover a larger area of the cage due to their length and can therefore be placed closer to the cage.
- If you place a perch (< 60cm) directly under the fluorescent tube, the budgies can “sunbathe” there without the UV radiation decreasing due to too great a distance.
- Fluorescent tubes are available for different cage sizes in different lengths and power.
- The fluorescent tubes are usually cheaper (replacement after 12 months).
- Arcardia PureSun MINI (Bird Lamp T5 8W) for small to medium cages
- Arcardia Arcadia Pro T5 (Bird Lamp T5 54W) for large cages or rooms