Animal-World > Birds > Types of Finches > Gouldian Finch

Gouldian Finch

Lady Gouldian

Family: Estrildidae Gouldian FinchGouldian Finch, Lady GouldianPoephila gouldiaePhoto: Roy Beckham, eFinch.com
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I bought a pair of gouldian finches about 3 weeks ago. They are adult birds. I have given them a nest box as soon as they arrived, and after a day or two,... (more)  ananya roy

  The Gouldian Finches or Lady Gouldians are thought by many to be one of the most beautiful of the finches and are some of the most colorful birds.

   Though the Gouldian Finches are not extremely difficult birds to keep, they are rather expensive and are generally kept by more experienced bird keepers. Gouldian Finches are also not too difficult to breed and will breed well in colonies or as pairs in cages.

   To learn to care for this bird, a beginner could start with the Zebra Finch. They are much less expensive and have very similar environment requirements and many of the same behaviors.

For more information about the care of Finches see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Finch


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Actiniform
  • Class: Elasmobranchii
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Estrildidae
  • Genus: Poephila
  • Species: gouldiae

Scientific name:Chloebia gouldiae, Poephila gouldian Learn more about the Gouldian "Family", the Estrildidae Finches here: Finch Families

Description:    Gouldian Finches are 5.5" - 6"(14 -15 cm) with the females being a bit smaller. The males are the more colorful. The females are a bit duller, especially less intense in the breast color. Normal males have purple breasts, yellow bellies, and green bodies. The black-headed Gouldian is the most common in the wild, but about one out of four will have a red head and on a rare occasion, a yellow head. Breeders have developed a variety of color mutations including the white breasted, yellow-headed, rose breasted, blue breasted, blue bodied, and white bodied. The variations continue to grow.

Distribution:    Gouldian Finches are found in Queensland and Northern and Northwest Australia.

Care and Feeding:    Fresh food and water must be provided daily.
   A good finch seed mix will provide their everyday need of grass seeds and millets and is readily available at a pet store.
   They will need a good supply of protein, especially when they are molting or egg laying. In a treat cup you can occasionally offer supplements of diced hard boiled eggs, other egg foods, and mealworms. Seed moistened with cod liver oil and powdered with yeast will provide a high fat protein and vitamin D.
   In a separate cup supply green foods such as lettuce, spinach, celery tops, and chickweed. Finch treats of seed with honey, fruits and vegetables are fun for your bird too, as well as nutritious!
   Grit with charcoal is essential to aid in digestion and it contains valuable minerals and trace elements. Grit should be provided in a special cup or sprinkled over the bottom of the cage floor. Provide a cuttlebone because the calcium it provides will give your bird a firm beak, strong eggshells when breeding, and will help prevent egg binding. The lime in the cuttlebone also aids in digestion.
  Give your Gouldian Finch a bath daily or as often as possible. A bath dish that is 1" deep with a 1/2" of water, or a clip on bath house is very important as they love to bathe.
   Their nails may occasionally need to be trimmed, but be careful never to clip into the vein as the bird can quickly bleed to death. Bird nail trimmers and styptic powder to stop the bleeding are available at pet shops.

Housing:    Gouldian Finches have a great need for movement. A cage with a good height as well as horizontal space is important. A minimum of 24" (60 cm) in height (necessary because they fly up when first taking off) and at least 28" (70 cm) long. Gouldians must to be kept in a heated area as they cannot tolerate cold, any dampness or drafts. Always keep the bird area above 55° F, though they will do much better if the temperature is kept at 77° F or warmer. Place the cage where it is well ventilated and against a wall at eye level. The cage should have good lighting but be away from doors and windows where direct exposure to sunlight can make it overly warm.
   Provide two or three good softwood perches about 3/8" to 3/4" in diameter. Tree branches of a similar size also make good perches and will help to wear the claws down naturally. Provide separate dishes for food, water, treats, and grit. Place paper on the cage bottom that can be sprinkled with grit, or use a grit paper.
   Gouldian Finches also do very well in aviaries or bird rooms. In an outdoor aviary they need protection from wind and rain, a covered flight is best. The screening should be 3/8" square mesh. Dishes for food, water, grit and bathing water must be included along with perches and a wide variety of nests. Gouldian Finches may roost in nest boxes even when they are not breeding. Plants that are not poisonous, such as fruit trees, privet, forsythia, and honeysuckle bushes will make the space more enjoyable for the finches.

Maintenance:    Although finches require very little time, a clean environment as well as fresh food and water daily is a must to prevent disease and illness. The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Every two to three days change the paper on the bottom of the cage and sprinkle it with about 1/8" of fresh grit. Weekly wash and dry the entire cage, including the perches.

Social Behaviors:    Gouldian Finches are social and live in large groups all year long in the wild. They are friendly with other finches and do well when kept in groups. If you wish to mix bird types, they do very well in aviaries with Zebra Finches and Society Finches.

Handling/Training:    Finches are simply enjoyed for their antics and play rather than training. When you need to handle your finch to examine it or clip it's nails, place your palm on it's back and wrap your fingers around the bird with your thumb and forefinger on either side of it's head.

Activities:    Gouldian Finches are active and very energetic breeders. They must be kept active to remain healthy.

Breeding/Reproduction:    Gouldian Finches breed readily both in colonies and as a pair in a cage. Provide them with either open or covered nests. Nest boxes, larger than those used for Zebra or Society Finches, should be about 6"x 6"x 6" (15 x 15 x 15 cm) and mounted as high as possible. Both birds will build the nest and they will need nesting materials such as soft hay, sisal, and coconut fiber. Incandescent lighting tends to produce mostly males, while full-spectrum lighting helps produce a more equal number of males to females.
  Provide soaked seed, egg foods and spray millet when breeding. Gouldian Finches need more protein than other finches to stay healthy and it is especially important when the female is laying eggs.
   Females are prone to egg binding. This is thought to be caused by breeding too young, temperatures too low, or not in good shape. Some pairs will often keep breeding to exhaustion. They must be prevented from constant breeding in order to keep them healthy.
   The female will lay a clutch of 4 to 8 eggs and they will hatch in 14 to 15 days. The young leave the nest about 18 to 21 days after they hatch and in 6 to 8 weeks will be on their own, after their first molt. Their adult plumage comes in between 6 and 12 months.

Potential Problems:    Gouldian Finches, though not to hard to keep, are difficult to acclimate and will sometimes die for no apparent reason. They will suffer from metabolic problems if they don't get enough exercise, and can become ill after even a very short exposure to cold. Finches are fairly hardy birds and almost all illnesses can be traced to improper diet, dirty cages, and drafts. A balanced diet, being kept warm, and plenty of exercise will prevent most illnesses. Know your birds and watch for any changes as indications of illness.
   Some signs of illness to be aware of are droppings that are not black and white, feathers that are fluffed and the bird tucks it's head under it's wing, lack of appetite, wheezing, and acting feeble and run down.
   Some of the common illnesses and injuries your finch could contract are broken wings or legs, cuts and open wounds, overgrown beaks and nails, ingrown feathers, feather picking, metabolic problems from lack of exercise, weight loss, heat stroke, shock, concussion, egg binding, diarrhea, mites, colds, baldness, scaly legs, sore eyes, tumors, constipation, and diarrhea.
   First you can try and isolate the bird in a hospital cage where you cover all but the front of the cage and add a light bulb or heating pad to keep the interior of the cage at a constant temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove all perches and put food and water dishes on the floor. If you don't see improvements within a few hours, take the bird to an avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Availability:    Gouldian Finches have been quite expensive due to a high demand and the fact that they are captive bred. However, there are indications that there are now larger quantities being bred and that prices are reducing. The white-breasted and blue mutations are probably in the highest demand.

Author: Clarice Brough, CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Gouldian Finch


ananya roy - 2012-09-10
I bought a pair of gouldian finches about 3 weeks ago. They are adult birds. I have given them a nest box as soon as they arrived, and after a day or two, they started building the nest with dry grass and coconut fibres I supplied. Today, while cleaning the cage, I noticed an egg in the nest but the birds are not incubating it. They are outside for most of the time. They are busy preparing the nest with more fibre and cotton. I know that the first clutch is for free, but I am very anxious about this. Why aren't they incubating the egg? They are fiercely protective about the nest though. How many more eggs will they lay? Will they incubate after they have finished the egg laying business ? I have never seen gouldian chicks in flesh, so I am very excited. Also, is there any risk of egg binding, even after one safe egg laying done successfully?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-10
    First thing and most important grandparents have to relax.  They will not start incubating the eggs untill the last egg is laid in that clutch.  They have pretty large clutches as a rule with 4 - 8 eggs, so it might be a whole week they won't be incubating.  You said they were adult birds as it sounds like they know what they are doing so you relax and let them worry about it.  Yes, often times the first one or two clutches are for 'free' in the sense the parents don't really know what they are doing, broken eggs, don't know how to feed but yours sound experiencd so possibly not a problem.  Egg binding - it can always happen but not a normal occurance so i wouldn't worry about that either.  Yes, they will be very protective of the nest.  Feed them lots.  When babies arrive, feed them extra and some softer foods they can eat fast such as scrabled eggs (leave shell in) and sweet potatoes cooked and you can evenmash see inwith the eggs and swet potatoes.  You canmash pellets in for extra vitamins with the sweet potatoes.  Good luck and let us know - they are pretty aren't they?
  • ananya roy - 2012-09-13
    3 days have passed and no egg.they just visit the nest once or twice a day and spend the rest of their time outside the nest.their activity level and eating and other behaviors are all normal,but it seems that they have lost all interest in the nest.should i take out the egg?
  • ananya roy - 2012-11-09
    Tthey abandoned their first clutch. They took a gap and then laid eggs on 23rd, 25th, 26th and 27th October. This time the female is incubating them from 26th and is incubating them seriously. Yesterday while checking on them, I found an egg in the water bowl (the water bowl is nowhere near the nest). I took it out and accidentally cracked it, but a little bit of odorless and colorless liquid came out. It was the fourth egg but she is sitting on the other three eggs all day and night. The male goes in and sits when the hen comes out to stretch, poop and eat. Can the female know if a egg is infertile or won't hatch? The eggs are shiny and a bit greyish. Is there any chance that they may hatch? (it has been 15 days, so I am getting a bit excited,that's all!)
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Ananya Roy - 2012-07-29
i have a pair of zebra finches in a 24''x18'x18' cage and I wish to keep a pair of gouldian finches in it. I don't want to breed them. I want just 4 little birdies playing and flying in the cage. The zebra finches are about a year old. Will they accept another pair of finches (I will buy adult ones)which are different from them? Will they get along together? I need to know this because gouldian finches are very expensive and I don't want to hurt the existing ones or involve them in a fight. please help.

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-07-29
    I would not put the 4 finches in a cage together unless you do not care if they cross breed.  Also, cage is a little on the small side for 4 finches.  They are active, playful and flit about pretty much all the time.  So get a pair of gouldians (purchase them from a breeder if possible) as less expensive and you would know the age and healthy etc.  A reputable bird store is good also but more expensive.  If the cage were larger than you could put the 4 in together but then you still have possible cross breeding situations.  Not terrible and possibly wouldn't happen but finches breed quite a bit.  You can't stop them from breeding - I have no idea how you can do that.  Birds might mate for life but they do cheat.
  • Charlie Roche - 2012-08-15
    Yes you should put a nest box either in the cage (which some do) but i prefer one that hangs outside the cage and you just make a hole in the cage for the opeing to the nest box.  That way you do not take up the 'room' in the cage.  I also like some sort of screw on perch next to the opening of the nest box so they can 'protect'the nest box but it will slow them down jumping in the nest box and less risk of eggs gettting broken.  I'd put 1 - 2 inches of sand in the bottom of the next box to better insure eggs not breaking.  Then I'd put 2 or so inches of care fresh on top of the sand.  Give them some twigs so they can sorta help building along.  Anything can become egg bound.  However, you can watch them carefully and should that happen - and it probably won't - we can worry about it then.  Read a little on it now though.  Cuttlebone or calcium block in the cage and yes they are prolific litle breeders.  Can you believe all those precise colors as if they were just painted.  beautiful.
  • Ananya Roy - 2012-08-15
    I have arranged for a separate cage for keeping the gouldian finches. I am very exited as I am going to have my gouldian finches next week. I have always loved their beauty and now I am going to actually have a pair of them! I am going to have adult birds. One question though, should I put a nest box in their cage? are finches prone to egg-binding? will they breed readily?
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Mary - 2012-05-01
Hello, these birds are so pretty been wanting a pair or two for a very long time. I cant find them anywhere! Please help! If anyone has a pair for sale for $100 or under please contact me! I have had finches for years and would love a pair or two for my avery thanks and god bless you all.

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Alex - 2011-12-17
Hi I just wanted to give some information on what finches love to eat , Their fav/ is Romain green lettuce but only give them the one with no hearts .

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