A gentleman recently related to me a story that was told to him as a child. An elderly, wise old man told him that the Lady Gouldian Finch was God’s Finch. As the story goes, one day God found Himself with some time on His hands, so He took out His paint brush and painted the Lady Gouldian. That little story most likely is the exact way that the Lady Gouldian Finch came to be because who else could have come up with such an exquisite creature.
Over the last 7 years I have come to admire this little finch for both its beauty and stamina. And it never ceases to amaze me whenever I see a new one that is more beautiful than the last one that took my breath away. Being in a room full of Lady Gouldians is like being a child in a candy store. I want one of each! It is my hope that through this article I will be able to help you both enjoy and be amazed by God’s little Finch.
Fragile, weak creatures
The first thing that you must erase from your mind is that the Lady Gouldian is fragile, weak and a ‘hot house bird’. This is definitely not so! I feel that they have been given a bum rap by breeders who haven’t taken into account their hardiness and have, in effect, made them into "fragile, weak creatures". It makes me so angry when someone calls or e-mails me relating a story about how Gouldians purchased from breeders or from bird shows have died within days of purchase. This
does not have to happen. My hope is that in the not too distant future, it will cease to be the norm. I bought 6 new Gouldians this past June for new breeding stock from two different "breeders" at a bird show. Within 2 days the first one died, and by the end of the week I had only one surviving bird. I have no positive proof as to what happened to these five birds as they died in such rapid succession. My best guess is that had been on antibiotics throughout their lives and when taken off of them they succumbed. I have been breeding birds for the last 15 years, and
Gouldians for the last 6. I feel very competent to care for my birds, and yet I was helpless as I watched these 5 beautiful, seemingly healthy birds die one by one. One thing that cannot be denied about raising and caring for any small finch is that once they begin to show signs of illness by fluffing up or tucking their head under their wing they are usually beyond any medical help you may try. Please don’t let this scare you away from owning the Lady Gouldian or any other species of finch. It does not have to be the norm. There are reputable breeders out there. I hope that through
education you will know what to look for, what questions to ask and be able to find them.
Raised with the Seasons
My birds are raised for the most part along with the seasons. I realize that this may not be possible where you live, and you will have to make allowances for your particular climate. Here in Georgia, our winters are a bit colder at times than my birds would like, and our summer’s are much more humid than I feel is good for them. So I supply a little heat in the winter if the temperatures are going to drop below 55 degrees F within their indoor enclosure. In the summer, I try to maintain a relative humidity no higher than 75%. Summer temperatures hovering around 95 degrees F do not seem to bother the birds in the slightest.
The only time that I feel temperature is an important consideration with my birds is during the juvenile molt, which occurs sometime between 3 and 9 months of age. During this time, it is very important to keep your juvenile Gouldians in a constant, moderate temperature range, between 60 and 70 degrees F. More important than the temperature is the consistency. I usually accomplish this for my babies hatched during the winter months by placing the juveniles within a cage of about 4x4x2 feet that is covered by plastic sheeting and heated by a small ceramic reptile heater mounted in a reflector. This accomplishes the consistent temperatures without having to heat the entire aviary. This is not a necessity for the babies hatched during the warmer
months. Fluctuating temperatures, or moving them from one room to another will disrupt their molt. This could result in an incomplete cycle which will leave your poor little guys looking spotted and rather bedraggled until their first adult molt at around 14 - 18 months of age. After the molt is complete they can be easily be re-admitted to the communal flight.
Inconsistent Parenting Skills
The hardest part of owning the Lady Gouldian Finch is coming to grips with its inconsistent parenting skills. Definitely until the age of two years the Gouldians are very unreliable parents. The longer I am breeding them, the more convinced I am that it is unwise to set them up for breeding before the age of two, unless you want to use several pair of Society Finches as foster parents. There are breeders on both sides of this issue. I feel that it is always preferable to have the Gouldian babies raised by their own parents. Through my experiences I have found that while juveniles raised by Gouldian parents are usually larger when they fledge, by the age of 3 - 4 months the juveniles fostered with Societies have more than caught up to them in size.
One word of caution concerning the use of Society Finches as foster parents for your Gouldian babies. The Society Finch can be a "carrier" of the campylobacter infection and yet show no sign of illness. If you are using Societies to foster your Gouldians and are losing the babies in the nest suspect campylobacter. The prescription antibiotic erythromycin is what I have used to eradicate this illness from my flock.
Not all young Gouldians are bad parents
If you acquire your Gouldians as ‘green’ juveniles, or even as fully colored out yearlings, I would highly recommend that you not give them a nesting box or basket until they have reached their second year and have come into breeding condition. Most Gouldians will not breed without a nesting site, as it is within the privacy of their nest that they breed. You will probably notice the adorable courtship dance and display of the cock, and the bowing acceptance of his advances by the hen. If you can’t resist adding the nest box or basket, please be aware of the possible consequences. Not all young Gouldians are bad parents. I have found that the more you can make them feel at ease and in as natural an environment as possible, the more likely they
are to at least try to parent raise their young. This can be most easily accomplished by confining them in as large a flight as possible ( 3’ high x 4’-5’ long x 2’ deep ) with as little disturbance as you can afford them during the breeding season. Even under the best of circumstances some will breed and lay their eggs within the nest but simply ignore them from that point on. This is sad but usually accepted by most owners. However, the traumatic part is when the parents incubate their eggs, and promptly upon hatching, throw the babies from the nest, killing them. Most beginners can’t handle the emotional turmoil of this behavior, and I have gotten many a phone call from understandably upset owners wanting to know how they can save their babies. It is possible
to hand rear a newly hatched Gouldian Finch, and at the present time, I have a ‘hand feeding’ article featured on my web site, www.ladygouldianfinch.com.
Let my first advice be that you purchase your birds from a very reputable breeder - one that will assure you unrelated birds, and one that appreciates the hardiness of this finch. Don’t fall for the line that they are weak, fragile birds and only the most experienced aviculturist should attempt to raise them. If the person that you are buying from, tells you to take them home and put heat on them for a few days you have not found the ‘right’ breeder. If you start out with strong, healthy, young birds you should have many years of amazement and enjoyment.
God's Little Finch
|"being in a room full of gouldians is like being|
a child in a candy store. I want one of each!