Guide to Gouldian Finches

Guide to Gouldian Finches
Gouldian finches are beloved by hobbyists who also recognize them under the names "Lady Gouldian Finches" or "Rainbow Finches." Their gregarious disposition and bright colorings make them easily identifiable. These gorgeous birds are considered endangered in the wild---although recent developments may have them downgraded to "vulnerable"--and they are no longer exported from their native Australia but instead bred in captivity for the fancier. These birds require as much room as you can give them, and should never be kept alone in a cage but always in the company of their own species.

Characteristics of Pet Gouldian Finches

Gouldian finches are quiet, short lived birds. Living to the age of about seven to 10 years, they are great choices for apartment dwellers who delight in their bright colorings and want to keep a pair in their homes. Youngsters hoping to teach the birds tricks may be disappointed, since this species is not like budgerigars, which are well known for their ability to learn tricks and interact in this manner with their owners.


Keeping Gouldian Finches at Home

Purchase your birds from a reputable breeder. Avoid pet stores that work with numerous breeders, as the animals you receive may be sick, infested with mites from other species, or of unknown pedigree. If you are a fancier who might like to try some breeding yourself, knowing the color mutations of the birds' parents is crucial.

Build a small aviary or keep the birds in a big cage. Since Gouldian finches in the wild tend to live in flocks that number at least 500 birds, keeping a pair or more is important to the overall well being of the animals.


A closer examination of the Gouldian finch's beak shows that these birds live on a diet of seeds. Grass seeds are the staple of this bird's diet in the wild, but you should purchase a specifically formulated finch mix from your breeder. Breeder Del Marva Gouldian Finches suggests Kaytee and also Zupreem. Other great supplementation options are millet sprays.

Like other seed eating birds, Gouldian finches need access to gravel and fresh water. Hobbyists note that the potential for vitamin A deficiencies necessitates the fortification with vitamins, usually via the drinking water. Discuss this issue with the breeder, and see what formula worked best for him.

Health Problems

Gouldian finches, just like other birds, may fall victims to mites and also nutritional deficiencies. Both occurrences are easily counteracted by the well informed fancier. Unlike other species, however, Gouldian finches may be genetically predisposed to a condition characterized as "twirling." It manifests itself by the bird's inability to keep its head upright, and instead it holds it sideways or upside down only. It is unable to remain on a perch, and usually remains on the ground. Supplying minerals may prevent this occurrence, but in birds that have already fallen victim, inner ear infections may be to blame. Once treated, Gouldian finches usually only fall victim to "twirling" again if their heightened need for minerals is not met in their diets. Expert fanciers suggest not using affected birds for breeding.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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