Gouldian finch

The Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian finch, Gould's finch or the rainbow finch, is a colourful passerine bird which is native to Australia.

Gouldian finch
Male adult Gouldian Finch
Adult red-headed male
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Estrildidae
Genus: Erythrura
E. gouldiae
Binomial name
Erythrura gouldiae
(Gould, 1844)
Gouldian Finch

Amadina gouldiae Gould, 1844
Poephila mirabilis Des Murs
Poephila armitiana Ramsay
Chloebia gouldiae (Gould, 1844)


The Gouldian finch was described by British ornithological artist John Gould in 1844 as Amadina gouldiae,[2] in honour of his deceased wife Elizabeth.[3][4] It is also known as the rainbow finch, Gould's finch, or the Lady Gouldian finch and sometimes just Gould.[5] It is a member of the estrildid-finch family Estrildidae, which is sometimes considered a subfamily of Passeridae.

It had been placed in the genus Chloebia, as Chloebia gouldiae.[6] A 2009 analysis of mitochondrial DNA by Antonio Arnaiz-Villena and colleagues confirmed its placement in the genus Erythrura.[7] However, the IUCN still calls it Chloebia goldiae.[8]


Erythrura gouldiae -Frankfurt Zoo -black headed-8a-3cp
Black-headed male Gouldian finch

Both sexes are brightly coloured with black, green, yellow, and red markings. The females tend to be less brightly coloured. One major difference between the sexes is that the male's chest is purple, while the female's is a lighter mauve.[9]

Gouldian Finch Female
Black-headed female Gouldian finch

Gouldian finches are about 125–140 mm long.[10] Gouldian finches' heads may be red, black, or yellow. Formerly considered three different kinds of finches, it is now known that these are colour variants that exist in the wild.[11] Selective breeding has also developed mutations (blue, yellow and silver instead of a green back) in both body and breast colour.[12]

There are several "prominent rounded tubercles" with an "opalescent lustre" at the back of the gape. These tubercles are commonly (and incorrectly) described as phosphorescent in spite of much scientific evidence to the contrary.[13] It is believed that these tubercles simply reflect light and are not luminescent.[13]

Distribution and habitat

Erythrura gouldiae -Artis Zoo -Netherlands -male-8a
Red headed male Gouldian finch at Artis Zoo, Netherlands
A young Gouldian finch (first day out of the nest) – note the blue nodules on the side of its beak
A young Gouldian finch with the beginnings of bright adult plumage

Prior to the Australian government's ban on the export of Australian fauna,[14] Gouldian finches were exported worldwide. These birds have resulted in viable breeding populations being held in many countries.

Captive breeding has resulted in several colour mutations.[15] Mutations vary by country, with some existing only in Australia (the Australian yellow and the Australian "dilute") and others existing in greater number in the United States, such as the blue bodied Gouldian. The most common body mutations in the United States are blue, pastel green (single and double-factor, resulting in "dilute" and yellow males and yellow females), and pastel blue (again, single and double-factor producing "pastel" and silver males, and silver hens).[16] There is also a lutino and albino mutation in the United States, established by Winnie McAlpin of Delmar Aviaries.[17]

Conservation status

The number of Gouldian finches has decreased quite dramatically during the 20th century. Their habitat has been reduced or altered. Early research indicated a parasite called the air sac mite was responsible for the decline of the species. This is no longer considered to be a major factor. In general, Gouldian finches are susceptible to diseases and viral infections. Their beautiful colours mean that they are easily caught by predators. Fires are listed as the primary threat to the natural populations.[18][19]


Outside the breeding season, Gouldian finches often join mixed flocks consisting of long-tailed finches and masked finches. Flocks can consist of up to 1,000–2,000 individuals.[20][21] During the breeding season, they are normally found on rough scree slopes where vegetation is sparse. In the dry season, they are much more nomadic and will move to wherever their food and water can be found.[21]


Erythrura gouldiae -Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, South Deerfield, Massachusetts, USA-8a (1)
Two gouldian finches eating birdseed

Like other finches, the Gouldian finch is a seed eater. They eat 30% of their bodyweight each day.[22] During the breeding season, Gouldian finches mainly feed on ripe and half-ripe grass seeds of sorghum. During the dry season, they mainly forage on the ground for seeds. During the wet season, spinifex grass seed (Triodia sp.) is an important part of their diet. So far Gouldians have been recorded eating six different species of grass seed, but researchers have yet to find evidence of insect consumption.[23]


Diamant de Gould oisillons
Newly hatched Gouldian finch chicks
GouldianFinchJuvenille CincinnatiZoo
A juvenile at Cincinnati Zoo

Gouldian finches will usually make their nests in tree-holes. They usually breed in the early part of the dry season, when there is plenty of food around.[24] When a male is courting a female, he bobs about and ruffles his feathers in an attempt to show off his bright colors. He will expand his chest and fluff out the feathers on his forehead. After mating, the female will lay a clutch of about 4–8 eggs. Both parents help brood the eggs during the daytime, and it is the female who stays on the eggs at night. When the eggs hatch, both parents care for the young. Gouldian finches leave the nest after between 19 and 23 days and are completely independent at 40 days old.[24]

Gouldian finches have brightly coloured gapes and call loudly when the parent birds return so that they are able to find and feed their mouths in the dark nest.[25]

It has been shown that female Gouldian finches from Northern Australia can control the sex of their offspring by choosing mates according to their head color. A certain amount of genetic incompatibility between black and red-headed birds can result in high mortality (up to 80%) in female offspring when birds of different head colours mate. If the female mates with a finch of different head colour, this genetic incompatibility can be addressed by over-producing sons, up to a ratio of four males to one female. This is one of the first proven instances of birds biasing the sex of their offspring to overcome genetic weaknesses.[26][27]


Gouldian finches are a popular species in aviculture because of their striking colors and, like all finches, they are also quite low maintenance.[24] Gouldian finches get along well with other species of grass finch and some other docile species of bird, such as waxbills and parrot finches.[28]

Trapping for aviculture

In the Kimberley District of Western Australia, where most wild Gouldian finch were trapped for aviculture, it was often reported as one of the more common of the eleven finch species. Until 1977, it was trapped in greater numbers than any other finch. From 1897, when finch trapping started in the Kimberley, it was the most sought after finch by trappers and the most desired by fanciers. Between the years 1934 and 1939, the Gouldian finch was the most exported single finch species. The Perth Zoo exported 22,064 finches of which 12,509 were Gouldian. Private dealers exported 35,315 finches, of which 14,504 were Gouldian. The number of finches taken in the 1958 finch trapping season was the largest for one year, of the 38,649 finches taken, 11,286 were Gouldian. The last licensed trapping of Gouldian finch in Western Australia was on 15 November 1981. In that year's finch trapping season, of the 23,450 finches taken 1,054 were Gouldian.[29] However, it is now illegal to export these birds from Australia.[30]


Gouldian finch mutations

Bhwbwhb female2

White Gouldian finch and yellow Gouldian finch mutation


White-breasted yellow-headed Gouldian finch (left) and black-headed male Gouldian finches

Adult male double factor yellow back Gouldian finch

Adult male double factor yellow back Gouldian finch


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2013). "Erythrura gouldiae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. ^ a b Australian Biological Resources Study (6 May 2016). "Species Erythrura (Chloebia) gouldiae (Gould, 1844)". Australian Faunal Directory. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. ^ "The Goulds, John Gould (1804-1881)". Avicultural Review. The Avicultural Society of New South Wales (ASNSW). 15 (1). January 1998.
  4. ^ "Part 1: An introduction to the Gouldian finch - Planet Aviary". planetaviary.com. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  5. ^ "The Gouldian Finch - Chloebia gouldiae". www.efinch.com. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  6. ^ http://www.birds2u.info/characteristics_gouldian_finch.htm
  7. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A; Ruiz-del-Valle V; Gomez-Prieto P; Reguera R; Parga-Lozano C; Serrano-Vela I (2009). "Estrildinae Finches (Aves, Passeriformes) from Africa, South Asia and Australia: a Molecular Phylogeographic Study" (PDF). The Open Ornithology Journal. 2: 29–36. doi:10.2174/1874453200902010029. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2012.
  8. ^ http://oldredlist.iucnredlist.org/details/22719744/0
  9. ^ Arkive.org
  10. ^ "Gouldian Finch Identification - Gouldian Finch". www.diamante-de-gould.com. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  11. ^ Southern H.N. (1945). "Polymorphism in Poephila gouldiae" (PDF). J. Genet. 47: 51–157. doi:10.1007/BF02989037.
  12. ^ https://finchstuff.com/gouldianmutations
  13. ^ a b McAtee W.L. (July 1947). "Luminosity in Birds". American Midland Naturalist. 38 (1): 207–213. doi:10.2307/2421636. JSTOR 2421636.
  14. ^ "Department of the Environment and Energy". Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Gouldian Finch colour mutations | Finch Stuff". Finch Stuff. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  16. ^ Gouldian Body Color Genetics Archived 1 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Gouldiansgalore.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-30.
  17. ^ Delmar Gouldian Finches – Home. Gfinches2.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-30.
  18. ^ "Gouldian finch - WWF-Australia". Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Australian Wildlife Conservancy". www.australianwildlife.org. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Gouldian Finch | Pets4Homes". Pets4Homes. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Gouldian Finches or Rainbow Finches | Beauty of Birds". www.beautyofbirds.com. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Lady Gouldian Finch Diet Feeding Guide". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Gouldian Finches or Rainbow Finches | Beauty of Birds". www.beautyofbirds.com. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  24. ^ a b c https://www.thesprucepets.com/low-maintenance-pet-bird-species-390524
  25. ^ Attenbourgh, David. The Life of Birds, Episode 9, 3 mins, 55 s.
  26. ^ Pryke, S.R.; Griffith, S.C. (2009). "Genetic incompatibility drives sex allocation and maternal investment in a polymorphic finch". Science. 323 (5921): 1605–1607.
  27. ^ "Bird Controls Offspring's Gender". Scientific American.
  28. ^ https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/species/lady-gouldian-finch/>
  29. ^ Finch Trapping in the Kimberley, K H Coate and L H Merritt (2015) ISBN 978-0-85905-621-2 - ref Fisheries Department, table, trapped birds export statistics 1935-1939 22 August 1939, SROWA CONS 477, ITEM 1934-0059; and Department of Conservation and Land Management, table, Annual Finch Trapping Since 1968 1986. SROWA CONS 6437, ITEM 014832F3528
  30. ^ "Department of the Environment and Energy". Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links

Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is an Australian independent, non-profit organisation, working to conserve threatened wildlife and ecosystems in Australia. This is principally achieved through the acquisition of extensive areas of land on which to establish conservation reserves (called 'sanctuaries') or by entering into partnerships with government and Indigenous groups to manage landscapes for effective conservation. AWC currently manage 28 sanctuaries for wildlife conservation that cover over 4.8 million hectares of land across Australia.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy operate under a unique model for conservation, using science (predominantly biodiversity survey work and targeted research) to inform on-ground land management, such as control of fire, feral animals and weeds. There is a strong focus across the organiation at placing time and resources in the field for wildlife conservation: consequently, about 80% of all staff are based in the field, and a minimum of 84% of all expenditure goes to field-based conservation programs.

Most funding comes from private support in the form of tax-deductible donations from the public as well as some government grants for particular purposes, such as from the Australian Government’s National Reserve System Program.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy was founded in response to Australia's mammal extinction crisis. Over a third of the world's extinctions from the last 400 years have been from Australia, and Australia has already lost 31 species of mammal. Many of these extinctions were entirely preventable with effective conservation measures in place. The 2016 State of the Environment report suggests that while Australia is incredibly rich in it's biodiversity, despite legislation in at all state and federal levels, it continues to suffer from unprecedented decline. In response, AWC protect a diverse array of habitats across a large network of sanctuaries, to protect 88% of Australia's bird species, 72% of mammals and 54% of Australia's frog and reptile species.

In June 2007 AWC announced the establishment of a corporate partnership with Optus.As of May 2019, the most recent sanctuary is Bullo River which covers over 160, 000 hectares in the north-west corner of Northern Territory, near the mouth of teh Victoria River. This is a unique partnership between a working pastoral property and a conservation sanctuary to generate outcomes for both wildlife and cattle. The landscape here is typical of the Eastern Kimberley, dominated by Keep River sandstone formations with rocky gorges, lush riverside vegetation and expansive tropical savannah woodland. Inventory biodiversity surveys have already identified several important species of rare and threatened wildlife including the Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) and Wyulda or Scaly-tailed Possum (Wyulda squamicaudata).


Bitbird (stylised as bitbird) is an independent record label and creative company based in The Hague, Netherlands founded by Sander van Dijck in 2014. The label is jointly run by Sander van Dijck's manager Budi Voogt and his longtime friend and associate Thorwald van den Akker, who is also the label's creative director and co-founder. Their goal is to support good, emotional music across the board regardless of genres. They also believe in giving the artist the right support system to allow themselves to fully express themselves creatively. They also want Bitbird to "be the most fair and honest label there is".While Bitbird is known primarily for releasing the electronic dance music subgenre future bass, they have also released a wide variety of genres including classical music, R&B, trap, and electronica.

Bitbird is most known for releasing music by artists such as San Holo, Droeloe, Taska Black, Duskus, and BeauDamian.

Blackmore River Conservation Reserve

Blackmore River Conservation Reserve is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia.

It is located approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Darwin and lies along a 6.5 kilometres (4 mi) stretch of the Blackmore River from which it takes its name.The threatened plant species, Cycas armstrongii is found within the reserve. Other species found in the area include Grevillea longicuspis and the orchid Dendrobium dicuphum.


Estrildidae, or estrildid finch, is a family of small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They can be classified as the family Estrildidae, comprising species commonly known as munias, mannakins, firefinches, parrotfinches and waxbills, or as a subfamily within the family Passeridae, which strictly defined comprises the Old World sparrows. Despite the word "finch" being included in the common names of many of the species, they are not closely related to birds with this name in other families, such as the Fringillidae, Emberizidae or Passerellidae.

They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but vary widely in plumage colours and patterns.

All the estrildids build large, domed nests and lay five to ten white eggs. Many species build roost nests. Some of the fire-finches and pytilias are hosts to the brood-parasitic indigobirds and whydahs, respectively.

Most are sensitive to cold and require warm, usually tropical, habitats, although a few, such as the eastern alpine mannikin, mountain firetail and red-browed finch, and the genus Stagonopleura, have adapted to the cooler climates of southern Australia and the highlands of New Guinea.

The smallest species of the family is the Shelley's oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi) at a mere 8.3 centimetres (3.3 in), although the lightest species is the black-rumped waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes) at 6 g (0.21 oz). The largest species is the Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora), at 17 cm (6.7 in) and 25 g (0.88 oz).

Howard Springs Nature Park

Howard Springs Nature Park is a 286 hectares (710 acres) protected area located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Darwin, Northern Territory. A suitable habitat for waterfowl of the Northern Territory, it also has swimming areas and walking trails.

The actual Springs became important in 1910 when they came under consideration as a solution to Darwin's unreliable water supply.

Keep River Important Bird Area

The Keep River Important Bird Area is a 983 square kilometres (380 sq mi) tract of land on the upper Keep River straddling the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It lies at an altitude of 150 m (490 ft) to 210 m (690 ft) and is about 400 km (250 mi) south-west of Darwin and 40 km (25 mi) east of Kununurra.

Keep River National Park

Keep River National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 418 km southwest of Darwin and 468 km west of Katherine. The nearest town is Kununurra in Western Australia.

Kintore Caves Conservation Reserve

Kintore Caves Conservation Reserve is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia.

It is located approximately 12 kilometres (7 mi) west of Katherine and 330 kilometres (205 mi) south east of Darwin.

The area is made up of karst limestone and has an extensive network of caves that contain rare fauna and evidence of a long history of human occupation. The conservation reserve shares a boundary to the north with the Northern Territory Rural College and to the south with private property zoned for rural use.

Knuckey Lagoons Conservation Reserve

Knuckey Lagoons Conservation Reserve is a protected area associated with a small wetland located on the outskirts of Darwin and Palmerston in the Northern Territory of Australia.

The area which the lagoon is located was named in 1869 after surveyor Richard Knuckey by the Surveyor General, Goyder.

Kuyunba Conservation Reserve

Kuyunba Conservation Reserve is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia.

It is located approximately 15 kilometres (9 mi) south west of Alice Springs and 1,520 kilometres (944 mi) south of Darwin.

The threatened species, the Black-footed rock wallaby, is known to inhabit the area.

Newry Station

Newry Station is a 2,500 square kilometres (965 sq mi) pastoral lease in the Northern Territory of Australia. It adjoins the Territory's border with Western Australia and is operated as a cattle station by the Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC).


Parrotfinches are small, colourful passerine birds belonging to the genus Erythrura in the family Estrildidae, the estrildid finches. They occur from South-east Asia to New Guinea, northern Australia and many Pacific Islands. They inhabit forest, bamboo thickets and grassland and some can be found in man-made habitats such as farmland, parks and gardens. Several species are commonly kept as cagebirds.

They are 9 to 15 cm long. The plumage is usually mainly green. Most species have blue or red markings on the head and a red rump and tail. The tail is pointed and often fairly long.

Seeds, especially those of grasses, comprise the bulk of the diet. Some parrotfinches also feed on fruit and small insects. Many species forage in flocks, keeping in contact with high-pitched calls.

Three species, the green-faced, royal and pink-billed parrotfinches, are classed as vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss and degradation.


Plumage (Latin: plūma "feather") refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage differ between species and subspecies and may vary with age classes. Within species, there can be different colour morphs. The placement of feathers on a bird is not haphazard, but rather emerge in organized, overlapping rows and groups, and these feather tracts are known by standardized names.Most birds moult twice a year, resulting in a breeding or nuptial plumage and a basic plumage. Many ducks and some other species such as the red junglefowl have males wearing a bright nuptial plumage while breeding and a drab eclipse plumage for some months afterward. The painted bunting's juveniles have two inserted moults in their first autumn, each yielding plumage like an adult female. The first starts a few days after fledging replacing the juvenile plumage with an auxiliary formative plumage; the second a month or so later giving the formative plumage.Abnormal plumages include a variety of conditions. Albinism, total loss of colour, is rare, but partial loss of colours is more common. Some species are colour polymorphic, having two or more colour variants. A few species have special types of polymorphism, as in the male ruff which has an assortment of different colours around the head and neck in the breeding season only.

Hen feathering is an inherited plumage character in domestic fowl controlled by a single gene. Plumology (or plumage science) is the name for the science that is associated with the study of feathers.

Protected areas of the Northern Territory

The protected areas of the Northern Territory consists of protected areas managed by the governments of the Northern Territory and Australia and private organisations with a reported total area of 335,527 square kilometres (129,548 sq mi) being 24.8% of the total area of the Northern Territory of Australia.

San Holo discography

The discography of Dutch DJ, musician, record producer and composer San Holo consists of one album, seven extended plays, thirty singles, five production-credited songs, and eighteen remixes.

In 2016, Holo's single "Light" peaked at 13 on the US Dance charts. Holo would return to the charts with "The Future" at 50, "Lift Me from the Ground" at 39, and "Brighter Days" at 49. Holo's debut album, Album1, includes "Show Me", which peaked at 42 on the Dance/Electronic Songs charts in 2018.

In the Netherlands, "I Still See Your Face" peaked at 29 on the Dutch Top 40.

Sarah Pryke

Sarah Pryke is a behavioural and evolutionary ecologist. A graduate of the University of Natal (South Africa), with a PhD from Göteborg University (Sweden), she is best known for her research on the evolution of sexual signals in the Red-collared widowbird and more recently research on maternal effects and the evolution of alternative reproductive strategies in the Gouldian finch.

Shoalhaven Zoo

Shoalhaven Zoo, formerly the Nowra Animal Park, is an animal park on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

Shoalhaven Zoo is the largest native animal park on the NSW South Coast and holds over 100 species of mostly native mammals, birds and reptiles. The park is set in 16 acres (6.5 ha) of native bushland and is situated on the Shoalhaven River.

Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park

Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park is a protected area in the Northern Territory. It is located 145 km south of Darwin and 115 km west of Katherine.

Wongalara Sanctuary

Wongalara Sanctuary is a nature reserve in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia.

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