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  Gouldian Finch  

 

English Name

Gouldian Finch (Lady Gouldian)

Spanish Name

Diamante de Gould

Latin Name

Erythrura gouldiae

 

Origins

The Lady Gouldian resides in the  tropical parts of northern Australia.  They are currently endangered in the wild due to loss of natural habitat as well as an infestation of air sac mites in the wild.

Sexing

Regardless of the mutation you choose,  all are fairly easy to sex.  The males have much brighter colours both on chest and belly.

Males

 

Females

 

Size

5 ˝ inches. 12 - 14 cm.

Weight

 

Rings

 

Character

Gouldians can be kept in pairs or colonies.  The gouldian is a peaceful bird that does well in  a mixed flight.

Feeding

BASIC DIET
Balanced diets are only achieved by offering a variety of foods. Remember that a Gouldian's diet in the wild is whatever is available. Including grubs the spring, berries in summer, buds of flowering trees in Autumn and all manner of readily available mineral rich earths.

SEED
The staple seed for these birds is canary, white millet, and small yellow millet or panicum all of which are available in any good quality 'Foreign Finch Mix'. You can keep them and raise young on this diet alone together with water. However under these conditions fewer young will be raised and the mortality rate of both juveniles and adults will be high.

Some fanciers like to provide each kind of seed in a separate container but it is rarely possible to buy separate seed types in your local pet supplies outlet and sending away for such small quantities as would be necessary for a single pair is far from ideal. It is just as satisfactory to supply the seeds ready mized in equal parts, as would be found in most good foreign finch mixes, you can tell at a glance which types are in too large or too small quantities by the kind that is left in the seed tray or feeder. If, after the birds have been eating for a couple of days, the combination in the tray appears the same as was originally mixed, then you have correct proportions to your bird's satisfaction.

Gouldians are very fond of grass seeds that are in the milk stage (this is the phrase that describes the stage when a seed has just ripened or semi ripe). Almost any kind of grass seed is good for example, rye, winter grass, water grass, millet, etc.

CHARCOAL
Charcoal is a very good digestion balancer, which Gouldians will naturally find in their wild habitat from forest or brush fires, camp fires, etc. Charcoal contains properties which can neutralise excess acids and so help Gouldians to balance their digestive system - an avian 'Rennie if you like! This should always be available in a separate dish, the birds will use very small quantities of this frequently, many people have removed it altogether thinking that none is being used only to find the bird gorging on it when a new supply is forthcoming.

SOAKED SEED
Germinated seed is greatly relished by Gouldians. This is another valuable food. In seed that has germinated the starches have largely converted to sugar and the vitamin content has increased many times. About one tablespoon of germinated seed a day is ample for half a dozen birds.
The simplest way of sprouting seed is to soak some of your regular finch mix in water for 12 to 24 hours. Then rinse it thoroughly, drain off the water, and leave it moist in a glass or clear plastic container in a reasonably warm locality for 3 or 4 days, making sure that plenty of oxygen is allowed to circulate. Sunlight through the glass will help create ideal conditions and speed the germination. It is ready to feed when the small rootlet begins to emerge from the end of tile seed, it should of course be thoroughly rinsed again with fresh water before being given to the birds. As a safe guard against soak seed fouling many keepers use a small drop of bleach (unperfumed, additive free), or AviClens™ in the water to kill of any unwanted bacteria.

LIVE FOOD
Although the majority of Gouldian Finch keepers do not advocate the necessity of Live Food, it remains that though not essential many birds do enjoy the occasional 'bite'. Usually in the form of a few fresh skinned mealworms. Getting Gouldians to take mealies is not always easily achieved but if housed with other more gregarious birds such as canaries they will often follow suit and tuck into the protein rich 'mealies' without hesitation, which will certainly do no harm and will if anything add essential variety. They do not need live food in captivity.

DIET CHANGES
Gouldians are quite sensitive to sudden changes in diet and it has been known for them to starve to death in a cage with a bowl full of food just because they were not familiar with what was offered. Always check when purchasing new birds what diet they have been used to, if possible take some home with you and wean them onto your mix over the next few days.

SALT / MINERALS
Salt and minerals should also be provided, usually in the form of a salt lick or iodine block, available from most pet outlets.
Finely ground oyster shell, sterilized ground egg shell, or cuttlefish bone and ground feed quality bone meal are always required. These can be mixed and supplied in the same dish as the charcoal.
Grit or gravel has become a contentious issue amongst many keepers as to its worthiness. It is a digestive aid, which serves to grind the food in the gizzard but some believe that in captive species such as the Gouldian it can also cause an impaction or erosion of the Gizzard, which can be potentially fatal. Soft Bird sand is a good alternative as it is made up of many rounded minerals less likely to cause abrasion and often comes with added beneficial oyster shell.

GREENS

Greens are a valuable and rewarding addition to your bird's diet. Greens have the reputation of causing diarrhoea, which is a misunderstanding, but they will affect the character of your birds poop. Greens are bulky foods that pass through the digestive tract rapidly, causing a soft green stool. Greens are high in water, adding fluid to the body. More urine is produced which adds to the fluidity of the droppings. Birds at first may over eat greens, but if fed consistently, whilst making up no more than 20% of their overall diet, they will have. When feeding any type of fresh food, make sure to thoroughly wash the food before giving it to the bird. This removes any soil bacteria or contaminants which could be harmful to your bird.

SUITABLE GREENS
Leaf lettuce (grated), Dandelion (young leaves, flower heads), Endive Chickweed, Celery (grated), Spinach(cooked and chopped), Kale (grated or left in leaf to pick at), Mustard greens.

SUPPLEMENTS
There are many bird supplements now available in through most pet suppliers, including multivitamins, iodine mixes, calcium tonics, moulting tonics and yeast derivatives. Gouldians certainly do require their fair share of vitamins and although many of these are sufficiently catered for in a good balanced diet many experienced keepers do like to support their birds diets with these top ups, some even swear by them. Always read the bottle and never exceed the recommended dosage.

WATER
Gouldian Finches require clean fresh water supplied at ALL times, changed daily. Tap water contains many additives to make sure it is perfectly safe for us humans but this is not so beneficial to Gouldians and it would be advised for those keepers living in hard water areas to filter their tap water, or at very least pour into a glass container and leave to stand in a cool dark area for 24 - 48 hours. This allows many heavy particles and chlorine to sink or neutralise.

 

Breeding Cages

3 foot x 2 foot cage.

Nest

Width

 

Depth

 

Height

 

Hole Diameter

2 inches ( 5 cm. )

Gouldians are generally poor nest builders.

They seen to prefer a half open nest box (5"x5" or larger) lined with fine grasses.

Hollow log or half-open nest box 6 X 6 X 10 inches (15 X 15 X 25cm),

Several pairs may share a single hollow. (Rarely, birds will construct a dry grass nest in a bush or tree).

Nesting Material

It is best to deposit some nesting materials in the nest box to get them  started.

Breeding Period

Gouldians normally breed from September through March. 

When they are in breeding condition, the colour on their beaks will become darker.

Eggs

3-8 eggs white eggs.

Incubating

Both parents share incubating and brooding duties.

Incubation

Starts after the 4th egg is laid. Lasts 14 - 16 days.

Fledging

21 - 24 days, independent 29 days later.

Batches

2 or 3 broods a season.

Lifespan

 

Breeding Life

 

Sexual Maturity

Goulds are rather slow to mature.  They often take 4-6 months to moult into their adult colours. 

Aviaries

 

Temperatures

I read in literature that some heating is necessary in winter & that the humidity should be higher. It may be true but I have kept & got good breading results without any extra heating & humidity. Direct draft is harmful for Gould just like other birds but no extras are needed.

 

Health Problems

One of the most worrying aspects breeders have when assessing the health of their birds is that we can only visually see the main signs that our birds are unwell towards the end of their illness therefore it is essential that we should have a regular routine whereby ALL birds are inspected and any that are showing signs of not being in their normal condition are attended to without any delay.
Some species of birds can be seen to be very tolerant when it comes to any minor ailments or illness and generally make a full recovery within a few days however Gouldian Finches are a somewhat more delicate species when it comes to health matters and despite all the care and attention given ALL breeders will at some time or another experience deaths within their Gouldian Finch collections .

I have been keeping and breeding birds for well over 35 years now and in all those years I still find very few species of birds that can match the Gouldian Finch in terms of susceptibility towards illnesses and ailments.

So what are the "most common” health problems relating to Gouldian Finches and how do we treat them in our birds?.
Firstly I will begin with what many breeders consider to be the "number one enemy” that is Air Sac Mites.
I have been very fortunate in that all the years I have been keeping Gouldian Finches I have only ever had a few instances of birds suffer from this complaint – however I personally know of several breeders who have not been so lucky as myself and they have lost many Gouldian Finches that had this infection.

The symptoms of Air Sac Mites varies greatly according to the severity of the infection – some birds will only show mild symptoms such as coughing, or open mouth breathing ( often this can be heard with a characteristic clicking sound ).
Other birds may show a nasal discharge and may also be very fluffed up having very little energy and often a high loss of appetite.
Whilst there are many treatments and remedies available for combating this menace in Gouldian Finches ( and most if not all perform very well if one adheres to the full manufacturers instructions ) the product I use as a treatment and preventative is called BLAST – OFF SPOT ON, this product is manufactured by the BIRD CARE COMPANY, to treat the birds you apply one to two drops per 30g body weight of bird to the bare skin between the shoulders. It is recommended by the manufacturers to repeat this treatment three to four times per year for Gouldian Finches.

Another common problem which is however not unique to Gouldians is red mites, these can play havoc with ones birds especially during the breeding season. Red mites can often be very difficult to spot as they tend to be more active during the hours of darkness and are extremely small to the naked eye. Some signs of infection are: fraying around the edges of the birds feathers, birds appear to be suffering from irritation and are constantly preening and often birds are listless and lethargic.
A relatively new product to hit the market and one which I use with outstanding results is called CHECK-MITE by All Creatures Health Check, full details of their products can be found in Cage & Aviary Birds or the companies web site: www.allcreatureshealthcheck.com This product proved to be very successful for a fellow bird-keeping friend who was plagued with red mites and was having great difficulty trying to eradicate them in his bird room. He has only been using Check-Mite for a few weeks but when I visited him last weekend, he was pleased to report that he was having great success since he started using this product.

Gouldian Finches are particularly prone to suffering from Bacteria and Fungal infections.
There are many things that can generate these problems amongst Gouldian Finches however I believe that most can be attributed to poor hygiene standards – therefore I pay very close attention to ensure ALL cages / feed and water containers/ nest boxes and above all food supplied to the birds are spotlessly clean and free from any forms of contamination.
Any soft food and green food given to the birds MUST NOT be allowed to go stale even if it means replacing several times a day particularly in warm weather when it tends to "go off” quicker.
From my own experience of keeping Gouldian Finches I have noticed problems with Bacteria when my birds have access to an outside flight, I have come to the conclusion that this is mainly due to rain water finding it’s way into their aviary and settling in areas where the birds can drink it – therefore I feel it is essential if you do keep Gouldian Finches that have access to an outdoor flight, make sure that their flight it well protected from any penetration of rain water.

Fungal infections are many and varied but in the main I have found that most are caused by poor hygiene or overcrowding of your birds.
There are many commercial products on the market to help bird keepers maintain a clean and healthy environment for your birds and one that i have used with great success is called Saniclens from The Birdcare Company.

Egg Binding is also a common problem amongst Gouldian Finches particularly with young hens during their first breeding cycle. Early symptoms are: birds generally spend all of their time on the cage floor with their feathers fluffed, often with their head tucked under their wing and/or wings are carried low and often spread out. Birds have little to no energy and make no attempt to move if approached.

There are many theories as to the cause of egg binding and many believe it is caused by lack of exercise, birds getting too fat from being fed incorrect diets, lack of protein in the diet and also on occasions, hens that are too old for breeding purposes. I believe that diet deficiencies can play an important role in the cause of egg binding, lack of vitamin A & D3 (vitamin D3 is provide by natural sunlight and green foods are very high in vitamin A – Cod Liver Oil contains a high level of both of these vitamins and I regularly add a few drops of this to soft foods) are known to be one of the major causes of egg binding. I have found through experience that if the bird is treated early enough, the survival rate is generally good. If egg binding is suspected in any of my hens, the way I treat them is by removing the afflicted bird, and "steam" her whilst at the same time VERY gently massaging the vent area using baby oil. Often this treatment has to be repeated several times but normally, within a few hours of the bird being "steamed" and placed into a warm hospital cage she will pass the egg successfully HOWEVER, in order to save any hen suffering death from egg binding, time is off the essence and it is essential to treat the bird as soon as possible.

Steaming: This term refers to an old established method used by many breeders for all species of cage birds and involves filling a non breakable container with boiling water; cover the container with a thin cloth allowing steam to filter through the fabric. The vent area of the bird is then held within the steam – taking care not to burn the bird or damage the egg. The heat vapour can be judged by the hand holding the bird and therefore gives a guide as to the temperature of the steam being emitted.

Although this is a practice that many experienced breeders feel confident in performing, if you have any doubts as to your own ability to perform this task, I would strongly recommend you seek veterinary help – this of course applies to all bird health issues, Gouldian Finches being no exception.
If you spend time attending to hygiene and housing matters there is every reason to expect all the success and enjoyment that this delightful species has to offer, in my opinion there is no bird that can match the beauty of the Gouldian Finch.

Observations

 

 

Colour Mutations

Head colours can be red, black or orange. 

Breast  colours can be purple, white or lavender. 

Back colours can be green, blue or yellow.