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Gouldian Finch

Genevieve Dugal

The Gouldian finch is one of Mother Nature’s little winged treasures: this magnificent little bird of the order of the Passeriformes will amaze you with its shimmering colors and its melodious song. However, it is not a suitable pet bird for beginners, let alone for those looking for a bird to handle frequently. But if you are interested in acquiring this colorful little creature, read on to learn about its personality and specific needs.

divider-birdsSpecies Overview

Common Names: Lady Gouldian finch, Gould’s finch, rainbow finch
Scientific Name: Chloebia gouldiae
Adult Size: 4.9-5.5 inches
Life Expectancy: 4-6 years

Origin and History

The Gouldian finches are native to Australia. John Gould, a British ornithologist, was the first in 1844 to describe this little finch: he was so dazzled by its beauty that he decided to name it in honor of his late wife, Elizabeth Gould. This is why this bird, sometimes referred to as the rainbow finch, also has the common name of Lady Gouldian finch. The vibrant colors of this bird quickly won over Europeans upon its arrival in there around 1850.

Gouldians were subsequently exported in large numbers from Australia until the late 1960s. Unfortunately, this massive exportation of these birds also dramatically reduced the Gouldian population in the wild. Besides, the destruction of their habitat by the creation of agricultural land has dangerously weakened the remaining populations of finches; today, there are less than 2,500 adult Goulds living in the wild.

Image Credit: Arkin54, Pixabay

Temperament

Gouldian finches are endowed with stunning plumage; no one will contradict you on this fact. On the other hand, as magnificent as they are, these birds are pretty fearful and do not like to be handled. So, if you are looking for a bird that appreciates petting and human contact, the Gouldian finch may not be for you. However, if you like to spend hours observing the fascinating behavior and the vibrant colors of an actual winged work of art, this bird is for you!

Pros
  • Exquisitely beautiful bird
  • Gregarious
  • Not noisy
Cons
  • A bit fearful
  • Don’t like to be held
  • Not for beginners

Speech & Vocalizations

Like most finches, the Gouldian is a fairly calm bird that enjoys chattering, hissing, and singing but does not abuse its vocal skills. Indeed, they make pleasant sounds that are, however, unlikely to wake you up at night or create tension with your neighbors! On the other hand, these birds do not have the skills to learn to speak, unlike parrots.

Gouldian Finch Colors and Markings

The heads of adult Gouldian fiches can be scarlet red (20-30% of individuals), black (70-80%), or golden (very rare, less than 1 in 3,000 birds). Once thought of as three different types of finches, it is now known that they are color variants in the wild. Selective breeding in captivity has also allowed the development of mutations:

  • Pastel blue
  • Yellow and silver
  • Pastel green
  • Silverback
  • Albino (lack of feather pigmentation)

divider-birdCaring for the Gouldian Finch

Gouldian finches are splendid pet birds but made to be admired, not handled. They are generally not hand raised and will not withstand taming efforts well. In addition, their life expectancy is unfortunately short: even if they are adequately cared for, these birds rarely live more than six years.

Goulds may be tiny, but they like to live in an aviary with their fellows. These gregarious birds like to fly in flocks and will also tolerate other finches, such as zebra finches. However, beware of the Whydahs, who can be bullies towards your rainbow finches.

Common Health Problems

The best way to prevent disease is to take care of Gouldian finches according to the needs of their species and feed them properly. Unfortunately, many conditions of ornamental birds result, directly or indirectly, from errors in feeding or keeping. Besides, Gouldians finches can be challenging to keep because they are less robust than other popular finches, such as the zebra finches. Indeed, they are not recommended as first birds because they are delicate and prone to diseases that an inexperienced owner may not recognize until it is too late.

Food and water should be provided daily, and leftovers should be disposed of. The bathwater should also be changed daily for hygienic reasons, and the bath cleaned. Once or twice a week, you will need to clean their cage and change the substrate covering the ground.

It is essential to observe your finches daily, as with all pets. Watching them is not only an exciting hobby; it also serves to accustom your birds to your presence and to monitor their health.

Diet and Nutrition

Gouldian finches feed primarily on seeds. In specialized shops, there are special mixtures for this species of birds, containing the seeds that form the basis of their diet. In addition to the seeds, they should be served daily with fresh food, for example, in the form of greens (spinach, plantain, parsley, watercress) and fresh vegetables (zucchini, carrots, cucumbers), as well as fruits (apples, pears, cherries, bananas, and berries). They also like wild seeds, as do fresh buds and flowers.

For a healthy diet, Gouldian finches regularly need small amounts of protein foods such as sprouts, insects, or cooked eggs. They will need more food during nesting, rearing, and moltings, such as animal and vegetable protein.

As these birds like change, the menu should always vary a bit. But, of course, finches also need fresh water, which must be renewed every day and made available to them so that they can use it freely.

Tip: Buy your seeds in small quantities to keep them fresh. Seeds that are moldy or smelling rancid should not be served and should be disposed of. Sprouted seeds deteriorate quickly. Food should therefore be carefully prepared and served only if it is fresh.

Greens and other fresh foods must be free from pesticides and other harmful products or contaminations. Therefore, herbs should not be picked from roadsides, railways, or meadows where fertilizer has just been applied.

gouldian finch eating_Pixabay
Image Credit: Arkin54, Pixabay

Exercise

Gouldian finches need a lot of exercises daily. Therefore, their cage should be large enough to allow them to spread their wings and fly freely. Be careful, however, not to buy a cage with the bars too far apart, as these nimble little birds might find a way to escape!

Where to Adopt or Buy a Gouldian Finch

Buying a Gouldian finch from a good breeder can cost anywhere from $175 to $500. Although wild populations are at risk, these colorful birds are largely captive-bred and, therefore, should be readily available at large pet stores, avian retail stores, and bird breeders.

Besides, serious breeders are distinguished by the excellent quality of breeding of their animals, following the needs of each species, and they will be able to give you good advice. Under no circumstances should you buy a Gouldian finch on the internet if you do not have the opportunity to see the birds and their living conditions beforehand.

divider-birdsConclusion

Gouldian finches are like beautiful tiny hand-painted statuettes. Fragile and fearful, they do not make ideal pet birds for beginners, let alone those looking for a miniature parrot. However, if your desire is to admire them from afar while taking care of their daily needs, these little birds will enhance your everyday life with their melodious song and captivating beauty.


Featured Image Credit: Arkin54, Pixabay

Genevieve Dugal

Genevieve is a biologist and science writer. Her deep love for capuchin monkeys, pumas, and kangaroos has taken her worldwide to work and volunteer for several wildlife rehabilitation centers in Bolivia, Guatemala, Canada, and Australia. As a Canadian expat, Genevieve now lives in Argentina, where she wakes up every morning to horses and cows saying hello from the vast plain next to her home office window. She is the proud mom of three rescued dogs, Lemmy, Nala, and Pochi, and a frisky kitten, Furiosa. Having the privilege of sharing her knowledge and passion for animals of all kinds is what makes her fulfilled and happy.