Gouldian finch article.

Gouldian Finch... colourful and attractive finches. Discuss them here...

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Gouldian finch article.

Postby Paul.R » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:56 am

Gouldian Finches are the most colourful and beautiful birds in existence in aviculture today, having just about every colour of the rainbow in their plumage. Originally from Central and Northern Australia were they live in grasslands, but unlike most grass-seed dependant finches Gouldians can be found surprisingly far from the nearest source of water flying many miles every evening to drink and rest. There are three naturally occurring colours of Gouldian finch which only differ in the colouring of their faces, black-headed, red-headed and yellow-headed. The Yellow-head derives from a lack of pigment in the red-head. The cockbird and the hen both have the distinctive markings but the cock will show his colours brighter than those of the hens, especially during the breeding season. Another distinguishing feature is the cock's song, though not nearly as striking as his colours, nevertheless quite endearing to listen to.

I won't say too much about genetics as this could be a very lengthy article, stacks of stuff has been written about the Gouldian Finch and there are piles of books on the subject of keeping and breeding their colour mutations. Opinions on their ease of keeping vary hugely, this probably comes about because of their high price an average being around ?50 per pair. They are not difficult birds to keep at all and given the right conditions quite adequate parents. The undoubted fact is that their price is not due to their difficulty to breed and keep, but moreover the sheer demand for them. I have always admired these birds and I was overjoyed when I bought my first Gouldian Finch years ago. I discovered it in a Garden Centre, a black-headed cockbird alone in a cage full of Zebra finches, due to his non identification by the assistant I gladly shelled out the meagre sum of ?3 equivalent to the Zebra price - Yippee! Since then I have been captivated not merely by the brilliance of their plume, but simply their wonderful dispositions especially watching them as they curiously follow you round the room occasionally cocking their heads upside down to get a better view of you.

Gouldians will happily eat foreign finch mixture, but it is better to give them the seed types that they best thrive on, the staple seed for these birds is canary, white millet, and panicum. It has been suggested that these should be provided separately in different feeders as the proportions of either seed?s intake will vary during the seasons. They are also quite fond of a little variation every now and then, especially in the breeding season when their diet should be fortified with egg food or cake, sprouted seeds, greens such as plantain, dandelion, water cress and a little digestive assistance with charcoal. Extra vitamins and minerals should also be added in soluble form to their water or sprayed onto food running up to the moult when the birds are at their very weakest - growing that gorgeous plumage takes a lot of effort you know! The strain on the birds can be very telling at this time so be extra vigilant and give them all the support they need. This said, never change a Gouldian's diet too rapidly, introduce new foods gradually and always supply plenty of their mainstay seed at all time as well as fresh clean water.

Gouldian finches can be housed in similar fashion to most other Australian grass finches. If keeping them in cages choose the biggest you can afford, a single pair will exist happily in a boxcage 3' x 2' x 18" but do much better and may even parent given one twice as long 6' x 2' x 18". An aviary is the ideal setting for Gouldians, they are very peaceful birds and will coexist with virtually all other finches of a similar size. I have had them with Zebras, Bengalese, Mannikins and Waxbills before, but tend to keep them with their own species now. Since I first wrote this article I have however seen one Gouldian cockbird get very territorial when going to nest, but this was easily remedied by spreading seed around the cage floor or increasing the number of feeders so that competition doesn't become an issue. They will do best if they are kept on a colony basis as hens like to be able to pick and choose there mate, most unsuccessful pairings happen literally because the hen does not fancy the cockbird! If you acquire new birds in pairs this will not guarantee breeding, having a couple of extra males on hand will always be beneficial to the hens choice making procedure, once paired the lonely rejected cocks can be housed separately to allow the lifelong pairing to develop. Even after Winter separation, which is advisable to prevent any losses due to cold and egg-binding, it is beneficial to put 'pairs' back together as they do seem to recognise their original spouses. If it is not possible to cage them separately simply discourage breeding by removing nesting facilities.

You can tell that Gouldian hens are in breeding condition when their beaks become dark charcoal grey instead of the usual pale colour. The male's courtship is an absolute treasure to watch. It may start with the cockbird sitting next to his intended hen and waggling his head at an amazing speed (in a David Gray style), this is usually followed by a song and dance routine, hopping on the spot with head held high. If she is receptive she will 'whirr' her tail in response and bow to receive him. The smart male will then seize his chance and cover her.

Gouldians do well in the usual finch size nest box of 4-5" square with a 1.5-2" hole, but I prefer to give them something a little bigger to prevent tail feather curling. Gouldians are not overly fussy about the type of nesting materials that they use but can be a bit lazy about nest building. It may be wise to start the process off with a little helping handful pressed into the base of the nest box, they will soon shift it about to their preference. Soft grasses and natural fibres work best, never use any manmade fibre as they can become caught up. I have been told by many breeders that their birds will only ever use coconut fibre, but mine also have a tendency towards a little swamp grass type material to finish the nest off. Once they go to nest keep interference to a bare minimum, the hen will do most of the incubation with the male helping out when she gets peckish. Usually the male will roost just outside the box defending their domain from nosey neighbours.

The young fledge very quickly and can be self sufficient of their parents within a fortnight of leaving the nest. Young birds are surprisingly dull grey, considering their future prospects, until they get to their first moult. Families of Gouldians will happily exist in adequately sized aviaries but young birds can be accidentally damaging to further generations just by being nosey so try to find room to separate them if the parents lay a new clutch.

If you are thinking of keeping Gouldians my advise would be to choose your birds wisely, never buy them simply because they are the only pair available, so many people have been deterred from Gouldians simply because they were too desperate to find some in the first place and ended up with a dodgy lot!. The only reason that they may not be considered as an ideal beginners bird is most certainly the fact that the loss of such a beautiful and expensive bird hits very hard to any birdkeeper. The sense of loss is therefore magnified when you have waited so long for your chance to be the proud owner of a pair. When selecting a bird the Gouldian is probably the only bird that I would say that price is not a good sign of quality, in my opinion always buy from a breeder who knows about Gouldians specifically. They are worth their money and given the care they deserve will reward many times over.

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Re: Gouldian finch article.

Postby Tanin » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:48 am

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