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Lady Gouldian Finch

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Is the Lady Gouldian Finch right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Gould's Finch; Gouldian Finch; Rainbow Finch; Painted Finch

Scientific name: Erythrura gouldiae

The basics:
The Lady Gouldian Finch is often regarded as the most beautiful of the finches.Although the Lady Gould can present challenges to even the most advanced show breeder, they can also be a relatively rewarding finch for the careful intermediate or even the advanced beginner. The expert looking for a challenge may want to tackle the project of cage breeding for special (and sometimes fragile) mutations. But many hobbyists simply enjoy setting up a few pairs of the beautiful natural morphs in a planted aviary and allowing their birds to choose their own partners.

Some experience with breeding Society Finches is especially helpful, since many people enjoy success by fostering excess Lady Gould eggs or babies under Societies.

The Lady Gouldian Finch is a rare species endemic to northern Australia. Until recently, it was rated as an endangered species, but the population seems to have stabilized, and at the time of this writing, the ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), has down-listed it as “near-threatened.” As a grass-eating finch, it has faced changes in its habitat, including competition from cattle and destruction of its habitat by wildfires. The situation is definitely worth watching.

The beautiful Lady Gould is closely related to the colorful parrot finches, and its recent name change to the genus Erythrura reflects that relationship. However, you may find lots of information about them also published under the previous name, Chloebia gouldiae.

Appearance:
The adult males of the two most common natural color morphs, the red-faced and the black-faced, are spectacular multi-colored birds that take the breath away. The green wings, purple breast, and yellow abdomen remind many of Mardi Gras or Easter egg colors. The females are distinctly more muted, with a lavender instead of a deep purple breast. Her bill will darken in breeding season. There is also a natural, if very rare, yellow-faced morph, which is really more orange than yellow, and there are also a great number of color mutations that have been created by human breeders.

Weight:
16 - 17 grams (0.6 oz.)

Average size:
12 - 14 centimeters (5 in.)

Lifespan:
5 - 8 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Lady Gouldian Finch is most admired for its looks, but its steady and rather gentle personality also make it a good bird for the colony or mixed-species aviary. Very occasionally, a male might show some aggressive spirit in the breeding season, but most breeders are more concerned about the Lady Gouldians being the victim of curiosity or aggression. Don't let more assertive species push your Gouldians around. You may enjoy the most success with an all Gouldian colony.

Many people enjoy the male's soft song, but a few people have complained that the voice is too quiet for them to hear. You can watch out for the dance, and enjoy the little show that the male puts on to court his female, but don't interfere or poke around too much once the birds actually start nesting. Sometimes, this species is guilty of tossing youngsters out of the nest, and too much interference from humans or other birds might be one cause of that problem.

Housing:
The large number of mutations speaks to the fact that Lady Gouldian Finches can and do breed in cages. However, they do need a roomy flight which encourages them to fly, to exercise, and to allow the male to perform his charming mating dance. Many breeders have recommended breeding cages of around 3' long, 2' deep, and 1-1/2 to 2' tall, with a bar spacing of about 1/2” wide.

Many people prefer a planted aviary large enough to hold a colony. Most finches, including the Lady Gouldian, seem to remember a “pecking order” if you keep three pairs or fewer, so plan on keeping at least four pairs to prevent anyone from being picked on. Have pots of sprouted millet and other seeding grasses among the bird-safe plants, to give the finches something to eat and destroy. Considering the value of these beautiful finches, install a security system to stop human thieves, as well as taking precautions to secure the aviary from predators and disease-carrying mosquitoes. Most people provide heat lamps or another source of heat in the cooler months, but well acclimated Lady Gouldian Finches are reported to sometimes scorn the heat source. Keep an eye on them to make sure they're thriving in your weather conditions, and have safe places where they can get out of the cold or the direct sunlight.

Diet:
As an Australian grass finch, the Lady Gouldian Finch thrives on a relatively simple diet, but never use this as an excuse to short-change these beautiful finches. The core of the diet should be a high quality small seed mix, with plenty of spray millet on the side. Most people will also offer a high quality eggfood during the molt and breeding season, as well as sprouts, greens, and a bit of chopped fruits and vegetables. Some people also like to add a good finch pellet, and there are even breeders who have taught Lady Gouldian Finches to eat live food by providing a “teacher” finch in the colony that already takes live food. You should also provide clean cuttlebone, grit, and the vitamins and other supplements recommended by your avian vet or your breeder. They tend to look unusually ratty during the molt, but it's worth seeking advice at that time if you're worried.

Be careful with the diet, and follow the instructions you receive carefully. The Lady Gouldian Finch can be somewhat lazy and prone to weight gain, and a too-rich diet may cause liver problems or obesity. However, an inadequate diet or a diet not recognized as food can starve your birds. Don't overfeed live food, and don't “assume” that the birds are eating pellets. Be sure of what they're eating. At least one breeder does not serve any “wet” food, feeling it is a source of unhealthy bacteria, but others instead offer the salad, eggfood, and so forth for only a couple of hours before removing it. A Lady Gouldian's cage or aviary must be kept clean, so don't let old food sit.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

beautiful jewels, ornamental bird, stunning birds, beautiful colors, elaborate courtship, Breast colors

challenging

air fresheners, toxic fumes, initial purchase price, shy nature, heart failure, human handling

interesting

occaisonal fresh greens

Lady Gouldian Finch Health Tip

Lady Gouldian Finch

From Nov 22 2008 9:58PM

4/5

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