Rainforest Birds – Gouldian Finch
Species: E. gouldiae
The Gouldian Finch is also known as the Painted Finch, Rainbow Finch, and Lady Gouldian Finch. An abundant species native to Australia, it is considered one of the most visually captivating of all birds, and is a desired pet. It is bred in captivity, but there are less than 2,500 individuals left in the wild. It has been taken into the auspices of recovery and conservation programs.
Highly social creatures, these birds are known to proportion hollowed sections of the same tree during breeding, and can be see in flocks numbering in the hundreds.
On average, these birds grow to 5.1 – 5.5 inches in length and weigh about 15 g at maturity. Wild Gouldians occur in three definite and specific color patterns. The head is orange, red, or black, while the remainder of the body is olive green with a purple chest and yellow underbelly. Females tend to be paler in their plumage. One suggested reasoning for this is that a colorful male can better distract predators away from the nest. Juveniles have gray-colored heads, sides, and necks, with olive-green backs, wings, and tails.
Due to its popularity as a pet, selective breeding has yielded an already wider range of plumage patterns among domestically kept birds. These mutations include yellow, blue, or silver instead of the naturally occurring olive-green color on the back.
Like all finches, these birds are seed eaters. They are not ground feeders, preferring to forage in tall grasses for semi-mature to mature grass seeds. Insects, such as beetles and termites, also form part of their diet.
The Gouldian Finch is endemic to northern Australia from Cape York Peninsula by northwestern Queensland, the upper reaches of Northern Territory, and east to the Kimberley of Western Australia. Its natural habitat is the tropical Savannah woodland – open plains with distributed groups of tall trees, or mangrove fringes and thickets. It tends to habit areas close to water. This bird is migratory throughout most of its life, moving south in the rainy seasons and returning north during the dry months. It nests in holes, often using termite mounds or hollow trees.
These birds are monogamous, pairing for life. Breeding usually occurs during the last part of the rainy season, when food is comparatively abundant. The male courts the female by bobbing about and ruffling his feathers to show off his range of colorful plumage. He then expands his chest and fluffs out the feathers on his forehead. The female lays a clutch of about 4 – 8 eggs, and can bear up to 3 broods in series. Both male and female assume responsibility for the eggs during the day, but only the female stays on the eggs at night. Incubation usually lasts 14 – 19 days. After the eggs hatch both parents care for the young. These birds generally leave the nest when they are 21 – 24 days old.