Gouldian Finch Road Test

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Gouldian Finch- Pet Road Test

Breed: Gouldian Finch
Temperament: Inquisitive, friendly
Lifespan: 5 years
Recommended for: Experienced birdkeepers
Maintenance: Medium-high

History: The Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) is the most brilliantly coloured of all Australian finches. Australia is renowned for having the best collection of wild birds for its land size of any country on earth. The Gouldian Finch was named by ornithologist John Gould (1804-81) in honour of his wife, Elizabeth. He wrote, “It was with feelings of the purest affection that I ventured to dedicate this lovely bird to the memory of my late wife, who for many years laboriously assisted me with her pencil, accompanied me to Australia and cheerfully interested herself in my pursuits”

The first specimens reached England in 1887 and the not reach Europe until 1915. However, British breeders have now outstripped some of their Australian counterparts and produced more colour mutations in captivity.

In the wild: The Gouldian’s distribution is limited to the woodland areas of northern Australia. It has now become one of the world’s most popular aviary birds. Earlier this century Gouldians were seen in large numbers in the wild at their regular waterholes, but their range has become extremely limited. Research into this problem is currently being undertaken by the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory.

Appearance: The Gouldian Finch is a small bird, around 14cm (5.5′) long from beak tip to the tip of the tail. The normal wild finch has a green back, purple breast and yellow abdomen. In wild flocks, black-headed birds outnumber red-headed types three to one, while a rare golden-headed phase occurs once in several hundred birds. In captivity the yellow-headed finch is quite common. More mutations have appeared, here in Australia and in aviaries of UK breeders such as those of Mike Fidler.
There are over 150 possible colour combinations many of which breeders Ray and Wendy Lowe, who featured in our story & their fellow bird breeders, have achieved here in Australia.

Temperament: The Gouldian Finch and Zebra Finch are probably the most domesticated of all the Australian finches.

Breeding: Gouldian Finches are reasonably docile birds, although not for a complete beginner, they are fairly easy to breed and to keep in captivity. They are bred in flocks, maybe three to five pairs in an average-sized aviary, and most are docile enough to allow regular inspections of the nesting boxes once the birds have paired. Eggs are approximately 16cm (0.6″) in length. Uncoloured juvenile Gouldian Finches may breed within six weeks of leaving the nest. To help Gouldian Finches breed really well in captivity, they should be given seed heads (for example, summer grass, green panic grass, chick weed etc). From the time they hatch they have a number of purple-blue spots at the corners of their beak. Inside a in the box, it a very dash at the it, where they breed enable the parent to find them in the dark. Chicks are a very dull green-brown colour and are very inconspicuous. They emerge from the nest at six weeks.

Health: Gouldian Finches are prone to a few diseases in captivity, more so than other Australian native finches such as Zebra finches, so it’s best not to buy Gouldians from pet stores where they may have already picked up a disease. We recommend purchasing Gouldians directly from breeders and never mixing Gouldians from different breeders, as fatal disease is prevalent among captive birds.  It’s also a good idea to put 5cm (2″) or more of coarse shellgrit on the floor of the cage to stop parasitic worms from building up. 

Space and housing:
In Australia, in areas south of Queensland the Gouldian Finch requires a very protected aviary to shield them from winter cold. 

Feeding: Feed Gouldian Finches plain canary seed with just a touch of millet. Apparently in the wild they eat only a variety of sorghum called Sorghum intrans.
More Info: There are various finch clubs around Australia such as: http://www.finchsociety.org/