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Choosing a Gouldian Finch

By: PetPlace Staff

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Singing as the sun rises, the Gouldian finch's soothing and pleasant voice is appreciated by many people, especially in contrast to the loud screeching of other birds.

Gouldian finches (Chloebia gouliae) are brightly colored stunning birds. Named after the wife of explorer John Gould, these birds are also known as Lady Gould finches. Soon after they were first discovered in the wild in Northern Australia, these beautiful small birds have become popular, though somewhat expensive, pet caged birds.

The normal Gouldian stands a diminutive 5 inches tall. There is a black band on the throat, which narrows to a stripe that continues around the neck. This stripe then becomes a sky blue area behind the neck. The back and wings are green and the breast is purple. The underparts of the bird are a bright canary yellow. In the wild, the Gouldian comes in three different head colors: black, red or yellow. The yellow-headed Gouldian actually has more of an orange color to the head than a yellow. During breeding season, the tip of the males beak turn a bright cherry red.

Although Gouldian finches are social, they are only social with other birds. They are shy around people and do not like to be petted or held. The males are pugnacious toward other birds when breeding. In the wild they travel in flocks in the open grassland, so in keeping with this social nature, they should be kept in pairs and do even better in large groups. Since they mate for life, there should be an equal number of males and females.

On average, the Gouldian finch lives about 7 to 8 years.

Mutations

There are several mutations of the Gouldian now available. The white-breasted Gouldian has white plumage in place of the purple in the normal bird. Lilac-breasted has a dilute and paler purple on the breast. There are several blue varieties available. The most popular of these has blue plumage replacing the green on the back and wings and the underparts are a creamy white instead of the standard yellow.

Housing

Gouldian finches can be kept in cages or aviaries. These finches tend to be a little more difficult and demanding to keep than Zebra or society finches. This species of finch is very sensitive to low temperatures and need heated aviaries in the winter. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can cause serious illness and even death.

Finches are very active and enjoy flying around, so whether you choose a cage or an aviary, try to make it as big as possible. The minimum size should be 24 by 16 by 16 inches, although they would enjoy even more room, and the cage should be short and wide rather than tall and thin.

Feeding

The Gouldian finch's primary food is seed and they do well on commercial finch food, which is a standard mix of seeds and nuts. However, they prefer a more varied diet. They enjoy sprouted millet, small mealworms, insects and fresh food like spinach, grated carrots and cucumbers, apples and bananas. One good way of providing fresh greens is by using sprouted seeds. You should also provide a cuttlebone or mineral equivalent to keep their bones healthy and their beaks sharp. A whole hard-boiled egg completely cooled is a special treat and will feed six to eight birds.

Some Gouldian finch owners add rock salt or powdered charcoal to the grit to aid in digestion.

Daily changes of fresh water are essential, or ideally you can use a drink tube. The birds will quickly learn to peck at the round ball at the end of the tube to get fresh, clean water.

Grooming

Gouldian finches enjoy bathing. They love to splash and play in water and will bathe up to three times a day. You can place a small open dish of water in the bottom of their cage to maintain their feathers and skin in prime condition.

Care

Gouldian finches are diurnal, which means they are active in the daytime. They wake with the sun. In fact, they love the sun. You can offer them at least 8 hours of exposure to the sun to provide them with essential vitamin D. In warm weather you can put the entire cage in the sunlight.

Gouldians are naturally curious and enjoy playing with toys. They love free-hanging mirrors and chirp at their own images. They also like to swing on swings – be sure to provide one swing per pair.

Breeding

Gouldian finches are somewhat difficult to breed and prefer a nest box. These birds breed and nest during the wintertime in northern areas so indoor heated housing is a must. As breeding season approaches, the tip of the male's beak will turn a bright cherry red color.

Females lay between 4 and 6 eggs, one each day. After a couple of eggs are laid, the pair will begin sitting on them. The brooding and incubation take approximately 16 days or more.

Some breeders find that Gouldian's don't make the best parents. Those eggs that are not being cared for can be fostered by Bengalese finches.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Finches are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:

  • Bacterial infections, viral and fungal disease
  • Air sac mites
  • Egg binding
  • Salmonella
  • Respiratory diseases – aspergillosis
  • Calcium deficiency disorder

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