Lady Gouldian Finch
Erythrura gouldiae, also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch, the Gouldian Finch, Gould’s Finch or the Rainbow Finch, is a colorful passerine (perching) bird endemic to Australia.
The Lady Gouldian Finch originates across northern Australia from Derby in the west across to Cape York Peninsula. Their range in recent times has shrunk dramatically.
The Gouldian finch is a medium-sized grass eating bird that lives only in the northern savannas region of Australia. It is a strikingly colourful bird which was once very common. It is believed that less than 2,500 mature Gouldians exist in the wild. Sadly, this bird is listed as endangered in Australia.
In 1841 the English Ornithologist, John Gould, while on an Australian expedition came across what most believe to be the most beautiful finch in the world. John Gould named this magnificent finch, “The Lady Gouldian”, to honor his artist wife, Lady Elizabeth Gould.
The Gouldian finch is easily recognised by its purple chest, yellow breast and green back. Their legs and feet are yellow and they have a long, pointed tail. Females are duller than males, and the juveniles are completely dull green. There are three different colour-morphs of Gouldian finches, which have either black, red, or yellow faces.
Male: Weight 15 grams. The head is black, (dominant coloration of wild populations) red or yellow. The upper breast is a rich velvet lilac. The lower breast, upper belly and flanks are a chrome yellow. The back and wings are grass-green. The rump and upper tail are cobalt blue. The black tail has two extended pin feathers at the central point. The beak is ivory with a red or yellow tip on the male. Legs and feet are flesh-colored. The eyes are dark brown.
Female: The coloration is basically the same as that of the male, with the exception being that the colors, overall, are a more subdued version. She is duller with a noticeably paler chest and belly color. The beak turns grey/black during breeding. Some females have the chest color almost as intense as males, and these strains are highly sought after by the avicultural purists.
Late in the wet season Gouldian finches seek out hollows for nesting, preferring those formed by termites in northern white gum and salmon gum to raise their four or more chicks. Both parents raise the chicks and up to three clutches of eggs can be laid in a season.
Flock size varies with seasons. During the dry season larger feeding flocks can be observed, whereas flocks are smaller and more dispersed during the wet season. Gouldian finches eat only grass seed. During the dry season they feed mainly on the seed of sorghum grass, and during the wet season they eat several species of perennial grasses.
The greatest threats to Gouldian finches and other grass-eating birds are changes to habitat resulting from altered fire patterns and grazing pressure.