. Gouldian finch
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- An Australian Finch
(Click on photo to enlarge) Group of
- Scientific Name: Chloebia gouldiae,
- Common Name/s:
GOULDIAN, GOULDIAN FINCH, GOULDIAN GRASSFINCH, RAINBOW FINCH.
- Sub Species:
None, but comes in 3 colour variations. Red-headed, Black-headed
(the dominant head colour) and Yellow-headed. There are 54 possible
genetic colour combinations without taking colour mutations into
- Origin / Distribution: Across
northern Australia except the east coast of Queensland.
- Habitat In Wild: Open grass lands
and timbered areas.
- Status In Wild: Numbers are
decreasing and their distribution in the wild is also decreasing.
Scientific Research Foundations have been set up to research the
wild populations to help ensure their survival in the wild.
- Status In (Australian) Captivity:
Secure, although pure original colour strains are rare.
- Age To Sexual Maturity:
approx 9 months
- Adult plumage: attained at about
months. Depending when they hatched, most have moulted by late
- Best breeding years (estimate):
about 15 months - 4th year.
- Sexing: Monomorphic
/ Dimorphic. Differences are subtle in
"normal" coloured birds but some in colour mutations there are no
- Mutations: Lots. There are 54
possible genetic colour combinations without taking colour mutations
into account. Most people agree the original ("normal") coloured
birds are the best visually. (Sadly even a white Gouldian.
Gone are the vivid colours and now looks like a $10 white Zebra
- Availability: Pet shops & bird
- Temperament: Not a good bird for
beginners and best left to the more experienced breeders especially in
the cooler southern states. Non aggressive and can be kept in a
colony or as single pairs. Often bred indoors in cabinets (canary
breeder cages) to control the breeding pairing and to ensure an
appropriate breeding environment. Need to keep accurate breeding
records to have a good chance to predict the possible colours of the
young. Gouldians rarely, if ever, hybridize with other species
of finches in a mixed species collection.
- Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: -
Normal colour (Approx) $60 - $70
- Description Of Adults:
- Length: Approx. 135 - 145 mm (or approx 5.5 - 6
- Colour ( "normal" colour ):
photo of uncoloured birds -
top right of page. (Click on photo to enlarge).
- Weight: Approx. 15 gms (or approx 1/2 oz)
- 3 "normal" colour forms: Black headed, the dominant wild
population form. Red headed. Yellow headed.
CONSERVATION VALUE: Gouldian finches used to be seen in large
flocks flying free in the wild. Some reports state the wild population is
thought to be only 1000, may be 1200 birds. This could mean we
have only a few hundred breeding pairs left in the wild!! These few
remaining breeding pairs are at the mercy of land clearing, bushfires,
predators and human interference.
Some reports state the numbers in the wild are much larger than the 1200
or so birds and the numbers are stable. Which ever of the numbers
are correct, this colourful bird deserves constant monitoring and
conservation in the wild.
The birds we keep in the aviary tend to be bred to produce an endless
combination of colour mutations. Few people can honestly say they
have pairs of birds that always produce true "normal" coloured birds.
Almost all birds bred in our aviaries have some colour mutation
impurities and may be of little value as a breeding stock suitable to
release back into the wild.
More value must be placed on the rarest of the Gouldian Finches....the
true pure "normal" bird.
on "Finches - Australian" web page
and use in conjunction with details
outlined on this page.
Level Of Knowledge Required:
Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.
Government Regulations &
By-Laws: Refer to "Government Laws" page.
Click on "Housing birds"
web page for general details on the housing
of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.
Gouldians are from tropical northern
Australia and prefer a warm draft free environment, especially in
southern Australian states. Some breeders provide additional
heating in the winter months for those housed in an aviary. This
gives the bird the choice of moving to a warmer spot if it so desires.
Many people who breed Gouldian finches for selected
colours breed them in environmentally controlled purpose built rooms.
Many specialist breeders successfully use cabinets (canary breeding
cages). The nest box can be attached to the outside of the cage. Colony breeding can also be successful. In southern
Australian states care has to be taken to ensure outdoor aviaries are
draft free and not subject to bad weather.
Specialist Gouldian finch breeders often
house and breed their birds in controlled environment rooms. The
temperature, humidity, light levels, lighting duration, air flow, and
cage size can all be adjusted to suit the breeder's ideas and
Diet / Feeding: Click on "Feeding birds"
web page for general details on the
nutrition of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this
Gouldians prefer to eat from an elevated
food station rather than from a feed utensil at ground level.
The Gouldian finch requires a good quality finch mix, seeding grasses
and some green leafy vegetables. Sprouted or soaked seed if available. Live food is not essential
but may be beneficial during breeding season. Mealworms and small
crickets can be
As stated on the Bengalese web page, if Gouldian finches are to be fostered,
the foster birds should
be fed on the preferred Gouldian finch seed mix and offered the same
other foods that Gouldians eat.
Basic seed mix should include Canary
seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.
Other seeds as locally available.
A basic overview only.
- Roosting nest: No
(Click on photos to enlarge).
- Nesting months: In the wild
they breed from December to April. Can be bred through-out the year in
controlled environment breeding rooms.
- Nesting receptacles: Timber
nest boxes with a partially open front and a
hinged lid are the most popular. Half filling of the nest box
with nest materials, mainly grasses, is a common practice. The Gouldians will
finish the nest.
Records of wild nests show Gouldians will
build nests in tree hollows. The use of timber nestboxes is a good
compromise. The timber nest boxes resemble budgie nest boxes
but usually have a hinged lid to allow for nest inspection and the
removal of soiled nest
material after the clutch has left the nest. Many breeders have
modified this basic design and incorporate features they think will
improve their chances of successful breeding results.
Modified Standard nestbox - Left photo
- has a "porch" at the front to give the birds more privacy and
potentially less annoyance from other birds.
Typical nest box size is approx 200mm long x 150mm high x 100mm wide
(8 x 6 x 4 inches).
Nestbox has a removable lid.
The inverted "L" nestbox is also popular. Refer
photo right. (Click on photos to enlarge).
Nestbox is about 220 mm (9 inches) long x 180mm (7 inches) high x
75mm (3 inches) internally wide.
Nest box has a 50mm (2 inch) wide landing platform outside the entry
Nestbox has a removable lid.
Nestbox can be attached, removed or replaced easily by the metal
bracket on the rear of the nestbox.
Lorikeet and Lory breeders use a similar design.
- Nest: Nest is built by
both parents and made from grasses and other suitable materials and lined
with soft fine grasses and sometimes feathers. Some people add
other materials such as charcoal to the bottom of the nest to assist
with nest hygiene.
- Who incubates the eggs: Hen
at night, both share during the day. Can be fostered under
The Gouldian finches need a new nest for each
clutch so adequate spare nest boxes must be available as well as
adequate new nest grasses and other suitable nest materials. Some
people add other materials such as crushed charcoal to the bottom of the nest to
assist with nest hygiene.
Holes about 4mm in diameter can be drilled into the floor of the
nestbox. These holes may help with air flow and help with nest
hygiene. This is a personal choice and can be
discussed with other breeders who use these and other similar materials
and methods. Adequate nests must be provided in a colony situation
so as to minimize nest and territory disputes.
Nests attached to an external wall or a
metal wall in the cooler months may be colder than nests further away
from the cold surface. External aviary walls and metal walls can
get very cold very fast at night and drain valuable heat from a nest.
Gouldian young can die if the nest gets cold and stays cold especially
at night. Moving a nest about 150 - 200 mm (6 - 8 inches) away
from a potentially cold surface will minimize this kind of heat loss.
More details on
and a selection of finch nest photos
can be located on the "nests", "finch nests"
and "finch nest photos"
web pages. Click on "Up" then "nests" then
"finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in
the navigation bars.
Nestboxes can be placed at varying
heights. More nest sites must be available than the number of
pairs in the aviary.
Egg Colour White. Clutch/s
per year 2 - 3. Eggs per nest 4 - 7. Incubation
approx 12 - 14 days. Fledge approx. 21 -
Independent approx. another 21 days.
Depending when they hatched, most have
moulted by late December. The ideal time to selling or buy young
Gouldians is after they have completed their first moult.
An extra cock bird in a colony of
Gouldians should not cause any problems and may stimulate the other cock
birds to be more attentive to their breeding duties.
A nest with
an abnormally large clutch of eggs may be the result of two hens using
the same nest.
Many Gouldian finch breeders report the
results are better if their breeding Gouldians are not housed with other
species of finch. A colony of Gouldians is a wonderful sight but
it is difficult to control which birds pair up and hence little control
over the genetic profile of the young. If space allows, only keep
the same head colour birds in the one aviary. Pure "normal" colour
birds are very hard to find.
Some pairs will fill the nest and make a
full dome while others do not complete the dome structure. With a
fully made dome the grasses may have to be carefully parted to allow
nest inspection or access to the young birds when the young are old
enough to be leg rung. Gouldians are more tolerant of nest
inspections than most of the other Australian finches but care should
always be taken. Many breeders place a coloured numbered leg ring
on each young prior to the young leaving the nest. This is most
important if breeding in a colony so an accurate record of each bird's
genetic background can be traced and recorded. The bird's genetic
record can be given to the new owner to help better predict future
breeding colour results. Gouldians can be fostered under Bengalese
finches to increase the number produced per season or if the parent
birds are unable to incubate their eggs or rear their own young.
The fostered Gouldians must be removed from the foster parents as soon
as they become fully independent and placed with other Gouldians.
A lot has been written about air sac
mite in Gouldian finches. Care must be taken to ensure this
problem is removed or kept to a minimum especially during the breeding season.
Seek advice from an avian veterinarian to cure a air sac mite
Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be
covered on this web site. It is too complex and diverse in nature to be
attempted here. Refer "Specific References" as listed below and
"General References" listings.
Refer "Avian Health Issues"
web page for information and references.
- Worming and parasite control and Quarantine
requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to
require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web
site. Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues"
- Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep
updating your knowledge and skills.
Refer to references listed on "Book
References" web page.
"A Guide To Gouldian Finches, their management,
care & breeding". Publisher: Australian Birdkeeper Publications. Authors
John Sammut & Dr. Rob Marshall. Cost is about $30.
"A Guide To Gouldian Finches and their mutations" (revised edition
2005). Publisher: Australian Birdkeeper Publications. Cost is about $50.
"The Gouldian Finch" (2005) Publisher Indruss Press. Authors S.
Evans and M. Fidler. Cost is about $66.
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