Parakeet Budgie and Keets that Glow in the Dark -
Flourescent Budgie Feathers

First off, parakeets do NOT GLOW IN THE DARK! To think that these poor little birds would turn into giant night-lights after dark would be silly! Just think of all those predators out roaming the night saying "Jeez, where do I find a tasty meal?" The predators would look up in the trees and see bunches of glowing little parakeets, and have a buffet.

The research done in the science journal called Nature by Katherine Arnold involved the breeding feathers of budgies - the ones around their head and neck. When budgies are out in the sun all day, those feathers absorb ultraviolet light from the sun - just like a blacktop of a driveway would absorb the sun's warmth and get warm. After dark, just as the driveway stays warm for a while and radiates that heat, the bird's feathers give off a flourescent glow. You can see that if you have a flourescent light. But of course your budgie would have had to have been in the sun for a few hours first!

Why do the bird's breeding feathers flouresce? It's a sign of a healthy bird, that they have enough breeding feathers to absorb the ultraviolet rays, and also a sign of a healthy bird that they were out in the sun for a long while. Parakeets need lots of sunlight to absorb the vitamins from it.

Ms. Arnold's research therefore was to put sunblock on a bunch of parakeets, so their feathers did NOT flouresce. She found that parakeets of the opposite sex - potential mates - began ignoring the birds that had been sunblocked! So parakeets use that glow to help them determine which birds are suitable for dating. Other birds of the same sex stayed friendly, so it wasn't a "you are a bad parakeet" thing. It was a "you are not a suitable partner to raise kids with" thing.

How do parakeets see this flourescence? Obviously they don't have flourescent lights out on the Australian plains of their homelands!! All advanced eyes have rods and cones in them that detect light and shapes and turn those into vision for our brains. While human eyes don't have cones that reach into the flourescent spectrum, parakeet eyes do have double cones that can see those wavelengths. So when a parakeet looks at another parakeet, that glow is one of the things they can see!

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