|Copyright: Klaudio Dadich (dalmatinac)
|Date Taken: 2009-03-29|
|Exposure: f/5.6, 1/200 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2009-04-06 5:23|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Gouldian Finch- photo taken in Melbourne, in an aviary.|
The bird is native of Northern Territory.
Gouldian finches are one of Australia's most beautiful birds. In the wild they are found in the tropical northern part of Australia.Their habitat is tropical savanna woodland where there are open plains with tall trees, near mangroves and water. The birds apparently migrate south when it is the rainy season at the 'top end' of Australia, returning in the dry season.
Gouldian Finches are very social birds and are often found in large flocks. Pairs may even share hollows in the same tree when they are nesting. They are also known as Lady Gouldian, Rainbow finch or simply Gould.
The birds are about 130-140mm long. There are three different color variations in Gouldian Finches: the red-headed, the black-headed, and the yellow-headed. This is because the color variations are on their heads and not on their bodies. People used to think they were three different kinds of finches, but now it is known that they are just color variations of the one kind of finch.
Black-headed Gouldian finches are the most common: The male's wings are mostly green, edged with brown. The back and top part of the tail feathers are blue, and the rest of the tail feathers are black. It has a black head, cheeks and forehead. The upper chest is a light purple, with a narrow orange-yellow streak at the edge. The lower chest is yellow. The beak is grey, tipped with red. Its legs and feet are yellow.
Red-headed Gouldian finches: Males are similar to the black-headed males except that the head, cheeks and part near the eyes is red. About a quarter of Gouldian finches are red-headed.
Yellow-headed Gouldian finches are rare: Males are similar to the others, but the head, cheeks and part near the eyes is yellow.
The females are not as brightly colored. This is thought to be so that they are less noticeable when sitting in a nest, while a colorful male can distract predators away from the nest, therefore ensuring the survival of the young.
Young birds, or juveniles, are distinctive because of their 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 reddish tip. Their legs and feet are light brown.
Like other finches, the Gouldian finch is a seed eater. They prefer to feed on tall grasses rather than be on the ground. They also eat insects such as beetles, termites, flies and spiders. They drink by sucking.
Gouldian Finches are quiet birds that generally stay away from places where people live. Their calls are not heard over great distances.
Gouldian finches generally make their nests in holes such as termite mounds or in tree hollows. Sometimes they make nests in tall grasses. The nests are generally near water. They usually breed in the last part of the rainy season, when there is plenty of food around. 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. They leave the nest at 3 weeks of age.
The numbers of Gouldian Finches have decreased quite dramatically during the 20th century. They are now classified as endangered in the wild. Their habitat has been reduced or altered. They have been affected by parasites called air sac mites, and this has reduced their numbers drastically. Their beautiful colors mean that they are easily caught by predators. Fires are also listed as one 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.
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