|Let's Celebrate Pet Birds!|
T.J. Lafeber D.V.M.
In the colonial house, birds were in a position of prominence and needed to be protected against the changes in temperatures which occurred as the fires died out during the night. The cage was covered by a heavy cloth or blanket to help retain the heat until morning.
The change in our lifestyle has had both advantages and disadvantages for the bird, and the cage cover is involved. The bird needs the cover today as badly as he did in colonial times, but for entirely different reasons. In our modern living, we have created another problem for birds.
Our sophisticated housing has effectively destroyed some of the environmental influences that helped control the bird's cyclic metabolism.
In the modern home, the temperature, humidity and photoperiods (number of hours of light in the day) are maintained almost stable summer and winter. In effect, there no longer is a change in seasons for the bird to help stimulate and regulate the endocrine (hormone), reproductive and integumentary (skin and feathers, beak and nails) systems.
Another problem created from today's lifestyle involves the number of hours of sleep allowed the bird each night. Because of their susceptibility to light, birds can only sleep when it is dark. Although they will close their eyes during the daylight hours as if sleeping, the presence of the light is still stressing to their system. A room which is light until midnight and reilluminated at 6:00 A. M., creates only six hours of sleep for the bird. If this is continued night after night, the stress of insufficient sleep will allow physical and neurological problems to develop.
Therefore, cage covers or other methods of controlling the photoperiods are now needed. The bird's cage should be cloaked with a light tight cover sufficiently well to make it dark. The light should be regulated to correspond to approximately the number of hours of daylight in a day.