Australian lady Gouldian finches
The Gouldian Finch, Erythrura gouldiae, also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch or Gould’s Finch, was named for Elizabeth Gould, wife of the British ornithological artist John Gould. These stunning little finches are native to northern Australia and are about 3 – 4 inches long. They are very popular in captivity, but they are an endangered species in their natural habitat – with less than 2,500 of them remaining in the wild.
Both sexes have brightly colored bodies with black, green, yellow, red and their heads may be red, black, or yellow. One major difference between the sexes is that the male’s chest is purple, while the female’s chest tends to be less brightly colored usually a lighter mauve color.
The beak is flesh-colored overall, however, once the adults are in breeding condition, their beak tips turn either reddish, orangish, or blackish.
The male courtship dance is a fascinating spectacle. When a male is courting a female, he bobs about ruffling his feathers to show off his colors. He expands his chest and fluffs out his forehead feathers. After mating, a female lays a clutch of about 4–8 eggs. Both parents help brood the eggs during the daytime, and the female stays on the eggs at night. When the eggs hatch, both parents help care for the young.
Newly hatched Gouldian finches are pink and naked until about 12 days old when the beginnings of feathers start to appear. Very young birds also have blue, shiny structures on the sides of their beaks to help their parents see them in the dark. Gouldian Finches leave the nest at between 19 and 23 days and are independent at 40 days old.
Juveniles have distinctive colors. Their heads, sides and necks are grey, and their backs, wings and tail feathers are olive green. Their undersides are pale brown, beaks are blackish with a reddish tip and their legs and feet are light brown.