Gouldian finches (also known as the Rainbow Bird or Lady Gouldian Finch) originate from Australia and are members of the finch family, which includes sparrows, cross bills and gold finches.Gouldian finches inhabit the open Savannah regions of northern Australia. In hot climates, Gouldian finches protect themselves from the sun’s rays by perching under the vertically hanging foliage of the eucalyptus tree. Their diet consists of varieties of seeds, live food and rock salt. They produce four to six eggs during each mating cycle. The eggs emerge approximately one every 24 hours. Full feathered fledglings should appear after 22 days.
Naturalist John Gould and his artist wife first discovered Gouldian finches while touring Australia between 1838-1840. His wife died on their return to England, and Gould honoured her by naming what he considered to be the most beautiful bird after her: Lady Gouldian Finch (Amandina Gouldiae). In 1887, the first black-headed and red-headed Gouldian finches were imported to England where they created a sensation. In Males: The breast and belly colours are usually used to determine sex. Males will have a brighter and darker colour of purple on the chest and the yellow of the belly will be darker and more intense than the female. The green back colour and the light blue around the face mask is also darker. Often the face mask in males are larger and clearer than the females, but is not always the case as there are some strains of birds that have equal colour in both sex’s face mask. The males will also sing a nearly inaudible song while stretching and hopping on the perch. They will usually begin this song long before they have completed their moult into adult colours.In Females: The female has more subdued colours on her chest, belly and back. The female’s beak will turn from a pearly white to black when she is in breeding condition.There are three naturally occurring colour morphs for head colours that exist in the wild (Morph is used here instead of mutation because it is a naturally occurring variation). The Red Headed form being the normal wild state. The Red Headed variety is dominant to the Black Head morph, but is still far outnumbered by the Black Head variety in the wild. The Yellow or Orange Head variety is rarely seen as it is a recessive mutation and also requires the presence of the Red Headed gene to be visible.
The mutations developed in aviculture include the White Breast (replaces the normal purple colour with white), the Yellow-backed (eliminates the blue & black colour), and the Blue-backed (eliminates the yellow color). How these mutation act on the birds and the combinations can be confusing for many Gouldian breeders. The number of Gouldian Finches has decreased quite dramatically during the 20th century. Their habitat has been reduced or altered. Early research indicated a parasite called the air sac mite was responsible for the decline of the species. This is no longer considered to be a major factor. In general, Gouldian Finches are susceptible to diseases and viral infections. Their beautiful colours mean that they are easily caught by predators. Fires are listed as the primary threat to the natural populations. The total number of Gouldian Finches altogether is not low, however, because they are among the most popular pet birds, and are bred in captivity for the pet trade.