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       Lighting your bird cages                 


For lighting an aviary or  flight cage, we've been using

Full Spectrum compact-fluorescent* lightbulbs in a    

clamp-on fixture or GE 18" flourescent strip lights

from Lowes- we switch the standard bulb in these

for full spectrum bubs - also from Lowes.

You don't need an expensive "bird" lamp to put them in - we buy our clampon fixtures at Home Depot for $8.99 - the 8 inch diameter model will serve up to 100 watts. We use 60w Full Spectrum CF blubs from Lowes (we usually get the 8 pack). Read the packaging carefully - make sure they say Daylight or Full Spectrum with the correct amount of lumens ( 5000)per bulb     to be real Full Spectrum bulbs.

   CF Bulb Light                  and Lumens

Name Colour temperature (K) (Mired)
Warm/soft white ≤ 3,000  
(Bright) white 3,500  
Cool white 4,000  
Daylight ≥ 5,000  


Note: the smaller 5to6 inch models will only serve up to 60 watts. Make sure to match the clamp light model you purchase to the wattage of full spectrum CF light or heat emitter bulb you have chosen. This style of clamp lights are also usually available at Lowes.com

Clampon light fixtureThis is the style of

8" clamp-on 

we're using with

our cages. 

It will use up to

a 100 watt 

CF bulb or heat

emitter bulb 

without any


For additional information about cage lighting, Robert G. Black has published an article with his research and opinions about lighting for caged birds and what benefits it will and won't provide. 

We do take our flight cages outdoors every week, weather permitting, to expose our birds to real sunlight frequently to aid in their synthesis of vitamin D3.

More reference info on lighting for your birds:

Bird and Lighting reference article links:




^ Recycling broken lamp bulbs http://www.nema.org/lamprecycle/

Lamp Timers & Rope Lights

These are a great way to control the lighting needs in your cage area unless you are fortunate enough to have space by a window that allows your birds to live by the daylight schedule set by Mother Nature. We adjust our timers to work along with the natural sunrise sunset timings of the arc of the sun through the day at the various seasons of the year. 

We use 2 separate lamp timers

  • One for the main light which is set to simulate the real sun's schedule
  • The second timer set on a schedule to simulate dawn and dusk times with the rope-light plugged into the second timer on that dawn and dusk schedule. We use a manual switch dimmer on the rope lights so if need be, we can turn it up to survey the situation without screwing up the timer setups.


Check your local sunrise and sunset times and adjust your lamp timers at least 4 times per year on evenly spaced dates such as Jan 1 / Apr 1 / Jul 1 / Oct 1 on the official time keeping site for the United States http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php   Enter your own State first, then City and press the calculate table. Once you have calculated your local sunrise and sunset times, print out your yearly chart and put it in your Bird Journal for easy reference. 

Simulating Dawn hours and Sunset hours

We use a single clamp-on light with a low wattage Amber lightbulb on a separate timer for 1/2 before daylight, and 1/2 hour after sunset to simulate dawn and dusk.  

Some folks also use a night light or a blue colored rope light in the room where the bird cage is kept - this is not critically neccessary with Society Finches - but Lady Gouldian Finches sometimes get "night-frights" if any unusual noises or motions occur in their room/area and it is totally dark.  Roy Beckham has a nice picture of his night light setup here


Where to get items mentioned in this article:

  • Lamp Timers - we usually get these at Home Depot or Lowes
  • Manual Dimmer - Lowes
  • Rope light - 2 ft string - Lowes  usually about $3.00 each
  • 3" Bulldog clips for mounting rope light to top front edge of cage - any office supply store OR
  • Reusuable cable ties for mounting rope light strands to top front edge of cage Fry's.com
  • Reusuable cable ties for finch nests top rear corner of cage Fry's.com These are usually available in white or black color, 25 pack or 100 pack. These are Make sure to choose "beaded reusuable cable ties" not the single use "zip ties".
  • 5 watt reptile Heat rock from ZooMed made of washable plaster of paris - Petco or PetSmart or online from ZooMed directly. 
  • Chrome cage shelf - Petco or PetSmart or your local bird mart.Fits the heat rock perfectly.

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