The world’s most beautiful bird, the Lady Gouldian Finch, makes a tremendous display in the home. These finches may be housed in cages or in flights. Like most finches, despite their small size,
they do insist on a fairly large cage. To properly appreciate them, a cage at least twenty inches long, by ten inches square is required as a minimum. A taller cage is better yet, for, unlike canaries, finches enjoy flying up and down, as well as across.
The Lady Gouldian really comes into its own in a planted flight. An area, indoors or out, may be screened off as an aviary. Since this bird is not destructive, the flight may be planted. Palm, ficus, and scheffelaria are all easily obtained and are safeto use with birds. The sight of a small flock of Gouldians, with their bright rainbow colors, playing amongst the branches of thesmall trees and shrubs, is a constant source of entertainment. This sort of bird garden is within the reach of all. I have seen charming setups built into closets and alcoves of New York City (it would be redundant to add small!) apartments. Full-spectrum lights, for an indoor situation, benefit both the plants and the birds.
Lady Gouldian Finches are not delicate but they must be allowed to adjust slowly to any new situation. Temperature is the most critical factor. When you purchase your birds, note the temperature at which they have been kept. This is important even indoors. Some breeders raise these birds under hot house conditions. Many pet shops, to provide the best conditions for tropical birds, fish, and reptiles, will also keep the heat on a high setting. These birds will acclimate to normal room temperature, but it must be a gradual process. The colorful Lady Gouldian will accept temperatures as low as forty degrees, if a heated shelter is available for them. They, like little children, enjoy playing outdoors on chilly days. The heated shelter will be used for sleep and if a bird feels out of sorts. Even if the flight is indoors, a single goose-neck lamp is valuable as a source of additional heat. A bird that is slightly stressed will bask under the lamp for several hours. This period of rest and relaxation will help in the prevention of serious disease.
The Lady Gouldian Finch is extremely easy to feed. Any of the many excellent vitamin, mineral, and protein enriched finch mixes will be eagerly accepted. Millet sprays are greatly enjoyed treats. Honey, fruit, and egg sticks may also be provided. Cuttlebone and mineral grit must always be available. Fresh greens and apple are often enjoyed. Nestling food should always be given, but, most often, these birds seem to eat very little of the protein supplements.
If your birds are kept in an aviary, hang all dishes as high as possible. Lady Gouldian finches enjoy heights. They are very nervous on the ground.
As juveniles, Lady Gouldians are a nondescript brown, grey, andgreen bird. They don’t develop adult plumage until they are at least six months old. I have found it best to purchase them before they molt, for at this age they are most adaptable. Much has been written of massive die offs of this species during the juvenile molt. This is one of the myths of bird breeding. I have not seen anything like this happen with my own birds or those of other breeders. As a matter of fact, I never lost a young bird that was molting.
It is very easy to distinguish the sexes in adults. The male has a bright purple chest. The hen’s is lavender. All other colors are somewhat subdued in the hen. The sex of adults may also be determined
by behavior. A mature male does a little bouncing dance in front of his beloved. He attempts, at the same time, some sort of song. This vocal display is generally inaudible. It is always unimpressive. If you don’t have a lot a patience, there is a trick to sex a bird in juvenile plumage. Pluck a single feather from the chest. A new feather, in the adult color, will grow in very quickly. On a hen that is ready to go to nest, the tip of the beak will turn black.Lady Gouldians will make use of any sort of finch nest, both wooden boxes and wicker baskets. The birds will fill the bottom of the box or basket with feathers, dry moss, or dry grass. My experience is that the birds feed their young without incident. If your pairs refuse to care for their offspring, society finches may be used as foster parents.
The Lady Gouldian Finch is very susceptible to a parasite called the air sac mite. This miniature scoundrel attacks the bird’s respiratory system. Your pet shop has sprays to prevent infestation. if you see birds having difficulty in breathing, do consult your avian veterinarian about treatment with Ivermectin.
In the wild Lady Gouldians occur in red headed, black headed,and yellow headed phases, the last being very rare in nature. Many mutations have been discovered by bird breeders. The most impressive,
and, luckily, the most widely available, are the white-chested, the yellow, and the blue mutations. White chested birds may be sexed by behavior. As in the normal colors, the hen white breasted shows less bright colors over all, compared to the male.