Airports Use LEDs for Bird Avoidance, What’s Over Your Cage?

Hi Renée,

 

It’s understandable to be confused about lighting as it relates to birds.

 

I want to offer some background first.

 

RE:  I asked Mark, the owner about his LED’s flickering and this is what he said, “Mostly an old wives’ tale. AC (alternating current) does cause a flicker when it alternates direction, there are no studies that I know of that show this is bad for birds.

Those stories came out when people first started using LED’s because people just HATE new things and will make up anything to discredit them. Florescent bulbs flicker WAY more than AC led’s.

However, my LED’s are 12VDC (direct current) so there is absolutely NO flickering.”

 

I get that a lot (the DC current doesn’t flicker, thing), lets start with:

 

Editor’s note:  LED pet bird lights plug into a 120-volt wall socket. The 120-volt current steps down to 12v DC with a transformer inside the LED lighting fixture Endnote

 

“………. when powering an LED light from an AC outlet using an AC/DC power supply, you may run into a problem.

A poorly made power supply can allow some AC voltage to pass into the LED light, creating what is referred to as “ripple.” 

This AC ripple can cause the LED fixture to pulse or flicker, affecting your shot. Read more:

 

Windy City Parrot has been studying pet bird lighting for more than a decade starting with using light therapy to control our bird’s circadian rhythms.

 

Before I talk about how we got here allow me to elaborate on 2 assumptions I hang my hat on regarding pet bird stress from LED lighting.

 

The dangers of LED lighting lurk in every living being with eyesight called a “fusion flicker rate.”

 

One

 

Why A Birds Flicker Fusion Rate Is So Important For Fast Flight

 

That post (above) hyperlinks to a document entitled:

 

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health publication. aka a study that illustrates fusion flicker rate is stressful for birds 

 

The article (above) is technical and hard to read unless you’re a scientist so here’s the spoiler alert:

 

Although this flicker frequency is too high to be perceived by humans, it may induce general stress and impaired welfare in birds with higher FFFs (e.g., Nuboer et al. 1992; Prescott et al. 2003), as has been shown in several studies on starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) (Maddocks et al. 2001; Greenwood et al. 2004; Smith et al. 2005; Evans et al. 2006, 2012).

If flicker fusion frequencies in budgerigars supersede those of fluorescent and LED lamps, it may spell welfare problems for many pet birds.

Old wives tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two

 

LED lights can help birds avoid collisions with planes and buildings

 

Large jet airliner landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right, LED’s are in place at airports and tall buildings to discourage birds from approaching.

 

“The experts have found that red and blue LED lights may be used to warn birds to go in another direction.”

 

Red and blue are part of the “full-spectrum” for “white” lighting.

 

Unless you know the acceptable, if any, LED colors for 750 species of pet birds, the stress your bird is suffering (as in “wanting to avoid”)  the LED lighting they are under- is unmeasurable.

 

I’ll throw this in for good measure:

 

Assessing bird avoidance of high-contrast lights using a choice test approach: implications for reducing human-induced avian mortality

 

We’ve been able to slow or eliminate negative hormonal behavior, excessive egg-laying, and repetitive screaming, using light.

 

More often than not I’ve been called the equivalent of a heretic who promotes this Internet pet bird lighting nonsense.

 

Playtop birdcage lighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full transparency, I learned the fundamentals from Dr. Gregory Harrison the founder of Harrison’s bird food.

 

Harrisons used to sell “Releaves” a private label supplement to help prolific egg-laying birds shut down their reproductive system.

 

One day about 10 years ago we received a call.

 

The customer had spent the time to read the little packet of instructions that came with the product, something I regrettably never had done.

 

3 light over budgie cage aviary

 

 

 

 

Her question was, “why does it say must be used in conjunction with having the bird bathe under 72 hours of consistent light?”

 

My rapid and brilliant response was “hmmmmm, I’ll call you back.”

 

I called Harrison’s, explained the question I was seeking an answer to, and asked if anyone there would clarify this?

 

Just like that, I was talking to Dr. Greg Harrison.

 

We spoke for 30 or 40 minutes and after hanging up I felt very empowered.

 

2 bird cages coverd with fullspectrum lighting under the covers 24/7

 

 

 

 

Up until that point, the only thing that veterinarians were using for prolific egg layers costing between $40 and $80 per injection was Lupron.

 

Soon after, our albino cockatiel started laying eggs, on a regular basis.

 

We tried dummy eggs and several hundred dollars worth of Lupron.

 

Seeing Popcorn so physically distressed (for a variety of reasons) we decided to try 72 hours of light therapy.

 

She stopped laying eggs.

 

I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of that whole experience but you can read about it here:

 

I Want My Freakin Bird Back but She’s Held Hostage by Her Eggs

 

My point is once we realized what we possessed with this powerful new tool which is highly effective and easily affordable – we knew we could make a postitive change for pet birds everywhere.

We have countless wins and are proud of our efforts

 

It would be helpful to send me a picture of your cage so I can make recommendations for lighting style and installation.

 

The double-double birdcage lighting project.

 

Feel free to reach out with further questions by email or not-so-smart-phone.

 

Stay safe

Best
MitchR

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