When we first adopted Georgie and Elmo we lived in a flat with no garden. Since both pigeons are disabled we knew they would always be indoor pigeons, however, I felt uneasy about their lack of access to the green green world. A year or so later we moved to a flat with a garden attached and I was able to take Elmo and Georgie outside under supervision. We bought a large rabbit run as well as a bird harness so that our pigeons could be outside safely. (One of the reasons why: Fly, birdie, fly!)
One of the major disadvantages of keeping a pigeon predominantly indoors is the lack of ultraviolet light (UV light) they receive. This is not something to be taken lightly of. Direct sunshine is required for vitamin D production (which helps the absorption of calcium), which is essential for healthy bone growth and strength. It is not enough to simply put a caged bird near a window to receive sunlight since the UV part of sunshine that helps vitamin D production is filtered out when going through window glass and therefore the bird won’t receive the benefits. Since birds can see UV light (feathers reflect it) a lack of UV light can also affect a birds behaviour, particularly its breeding behaviour.
Experts recommend shining a specialised bird UV lamp on an indoor bird for a minimum of 4 hours per day. Never use a reptile or fish UV lamp (or a plant grow light!) as they don’t have the correct spectrum for birds. An avian UV lamp should have 12% UV-a (for behaviour) and 2.4% UV-b (for calcium). Arcadia sell avian UV lamps: Arcadia bird lamp
For more information: The Essential Nutrient Your Pet Bird is Likely Seriously Short On… and Ultraviolet Lighting and Birds
Please watch this video on the subject:
In our past veterinary visits with Georgie and Elmo the vet has always asked, “Do you provide UV light?” So I knew how important it was for our pigeons but I had my reservations about one aspect of it. And it’s this: Georgie hates bright lights. And I mean HATES. Here’s what happened when she met a lava lamp: Explosive behaviour (For those of you who don’t know this, Georgie has distorted pupils and scarring on her eyes so she has limited vision. She can, however, see bright lights and movement.)
As I’ve written numerous times before, if my camera light goes on Georgie will back away. If the flash goes off then Georgie will wing slap me! So what is Georgie going to do with a super bright UV light shining on her?!!
But I had to bite the bullet and implement the light for her own well being. Summers being so wet here in the UK it’s not always possible for me to be outside with Georgie and Elmo – and never for many hours a day – so they’re missing out on essential ultraviolet light from the sun.
So I bought a light and turned it on and Georgie started a war campaign against it! And to be honest, I don’t blame her. The thing is BRIGHT!! Hurts my eyes when it’s on!
Elmo, on the other hand, doesn’t mind the light at all.
To get Georgie used to the light I have to have her on my lap or shoulder while I sit next to the lamp. (I wonder what health benefits I will get from the bird light?) Sometimes she seems to tolerate it, but mostly she’ll become angry when I turn it on. A minimum of 4 hours is asking a lot for her to tolerate I’m afraid. I think I’ll have to build up to that slowly.
As I’m typing this I have looked over to the sofa and seen Georgie settled down for a nap next to the lamp. Success!! Maybe she’s realised that the lamp is doing her good.