Old World Aviaries: About finches–

Chloebia gouldiae
The Gouldian Finch

Fenton Mereness
E & F Birds

Commonly called the Lady Gould, the Gouldian is without question one of the most beautiful birds for which the bird lover will ever have the opportunity to care. The brilliant colors are sharply defined and separated. The various combination of colors can produce a veritable rainbow in the aviary. The Gould's feathers are colored by four pigments; black, reddish brown, yellow, and red. The blue, which accounts for much of the bird's beauty, is not a pigmented color but is a result of structural factors.

The Gould that is found in its native northern Australian habitat has an olive green back, a purple breast, a yellow belly, and blue and black tail-feathers. The head color can be either black, red, or dark yellow. The majority are black, most of the rest red, and only rarely yellow. The variations possible with selective breeding are numerous and of sufficient interest, at least to me, that I will devote a second article to the “mutations.”

The Gould was long thought to be a problem to breed and maintain. As we have learned better aviary maintenance practices this is no longer true. The basic finch care discussed in a previous article with especial attention given to temperature and drafts will enable the owner to be successful. However, the Gould is not a beginner's bird. Breeders should glean experience with other varieties and ensure that they can provide a suitable environment before obtaining their first pair of Goulds.

The male has a distinctive song and the interaction of the hen and cock in breeding season can be a real kick. The birds will build a nest with vigor and urgency. Most, but not all, will prove to be devoted parents. The young birds are drab in comparison to their parents but make up for their lack of color by their curiosity and calm trust. If I could have only one indoor bird or pair it would be a tough choice between a canary and the Goulds, the Goulds would win. Enjoy!


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