It should be noted that the Gouldian finch is primarily found in the wild, and while they are bred in captivity, they require specific care and attention to maintain their health and well-being. Gouldians are a popular choice for bird enthusiasts due to their unique color variations, including black, red, and yellow. Proper nutrition and a clean living environment are essential for the birds to thrive, as they are susceptible to various diseases and health issues.
Population in Decline
The wild population of Gouldian finches has been on a decline due to various factors. Trapping and selling the birds for the aviary trade had a significant impact on their population. After experiencing such a decline, the Australian government took action and banned the trade in 1981. Despite the ban, the Gouldian population has continued to decline, and they remain endangered.
Factors such as predation, disease, wildfires, climate change, and human practices, such as using Gouldian habitats for livestock rearing, have contributed to their decline. To increase the Gouldian population in the wild, efforts are being made by national and international organizations, such as the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, to install nesting sites, manage wildfires, and protect the birds’ habitat. The success of these efforts is yet to be determined.
Gouldian Finches Diet
In captivity, providing a well-balanced diet is crucial for the Gouldian finch’s health and well-being. They feed on a diverse range of seeds, including hemp, sunflower, niger, oats, canary seeds, flaxseeds, white and red millet, sesame, and more. In the wild, they mainly consume seeds, particularly grass seeds, but supplement their diet with insects, like termites, during the breeding season to obtain protein.
Offering protein-rich seeds, such as sesame, niger, and flaxseed, and egg-based foods like hard-boiled eggs and egg food are excellent alternatives for captive birds to fulfill their protein requirements. While some bird owners may choose to introduce insects, it is important to avoid feeding live insects, which could carry harmful pathogens. Instead, dry mealworms are a safe and readily available option that can be offered during the breeding season to provide a protein boost.
Gouldian Finch Color Variety
Although Gouldian finches belong to only one species, they come in a variety of color variations, particularly in the head color. The three main head colors are red, black, and yellow. Among these, the black-headed variety is the most prevalent in the wild, followed by the red-headed variety. In the wild, the yellow-headed variety is considered rare, although it is relatively less rare in captivity. However, it is still less common than the black and red-headed varieties among captive birds.
The color variations of Gouldian finches extend beyond the head colors, as they also vary in chest, back, and belly colors. These variations are made possible through selective breeding, which involves choosing pairs with desirable characteristics to pass on to their offspring. There are several color varieties of Gouldian finches, including:
- White chest
- Lilac chest
- Blue chest
The Gender of Gouldian Finches: Male or Female
There are several ways to determine the sex of Gouldian finches, including their physical appearance. Gouldians are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females have distinct physical characteristics that make it easy to tell them apart. For example, adult males with a greenback and ready to breed have an ivory or pinkish-beige beak, and the tip of their beak turns red. Conversely, females with a greenback and in breeding conditions have dark gray-black or charcoal beaks.
Another way to distinguish between male and female Gouldians is by examining the brightness and width of the blue ring around their neck. Females have a dull and narrow blue ring around their neck, and sometimes it is not visible at all. Males, on the other hand, have a broader and brighter blue ring around their neck, especially during the breeding season. It is also possible to easily differentiate between male and female Gouldians by the brightness of their feathers, especially the belly feathers. Male feathers are generally brighter and more vibrant than females.
In addition to these physical characteristics, behavior can also help identify the gender of Gouldians. Males tend to sing more frequently and display more courtship behaviors, while females may be more territorial and aggressive when it comes to defending their nests.
Determining the sex of Gouldian chicks can be more difficult, as it can only be done after they complete their first molt. However, male chicks can be identified earlier by their tendency to gargle or learn to sing, before and after the molting phase. Once the molt is complete, the juvenile birds become colorful like their parents. If the feathers are bright, especially the belly feathers, the bird is likely a male. Conversely, if the feathers are dull, especially the belly feathers, the bird is likely a female.
Gouldian Finch Diseases
Gouldian finches are susceptible to various health problems, including infectious and non-infectious diseases. Some of the most common diseases that affect Gouldians include:
- Worms, lice, air sac mites, feather mites, and scaly face mites
- Coccidiosis and trichomonas
- Candida and aspergillosis
- E. coli, chlamydia and salmonella
- Avian Poxvirus and Polyomavirus
- Stargazing and egg binding
The Breeding Season
During the breeding season in the wild, which spans from January to August, with a peak in April, Gouldians typically produce up to three clutches. Each clutch typically contains 3 to 6 eggs, although in rare cases, up to 8 eggs can be laid. The incubation period lasts around 14 to 15 days, and the chicks’ eyes typically open at around 7 days old. Banding of the chicks is usually done between 7 to 9 days, and they fledge at around 21 days of age or more.
- Number of clutches per season: up to 3 clutches
- Number of eggs: 3 to 6 eggs, rarely 8 eggs
- Incubation period: 14 to 15 days
- Eyes open: 7 days
- Banding: 7 to 9 days
- Fledging: 21 days or more