Saturday 15 June
Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae)
Gouldian finch fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Gouldian finch description
The Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae) is an extremely attractive and strikingly coloured bird. It has a grass-green upper body from the lower nape to the back and wings, a pale blue rump and a purple breast (2). The belly is bright yellow, and the bill is whitish, with a red or yellow tip (2) (3). There are three distinct colour variations in the Gouldian finch, with individuals having either a red, black or yellow head. These variations were thought to distinguish three separate species, but it is now known that all three colour variations can occur together in the same geographical area (4). These splashes of colour determine the common names of this species: the red-headed, black-headed and yellow-headed Gouldian finch (4).
Like many finches, this elegant bird has two tail feathers which are long and end in a point (4). Female Gouldian finches are less brightly coloured than males, and juveniles are also recognizable by their different colouration, having ash-grey heads, sides and necks, and olive-green backs, wings and tail feathers (4). The young develop the adult colours as they mature (4).
- Also known as
- Lady Gouldian finch, rainbow finch.
- Chloebia gouldiae.
- Length: 11.5 - 12.5 cm (2)
Save the Gouldian Fund:
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
BirdLife International (March, 2011)
- Pryke, S. (February, 2011) Pers. comm.
HonoluluZoo - Gouldian Finch (February, 2004)
- Enehjelm, A.F. (1983) Australian Finches. T.F.H. Publications Ltd, New Jersey.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Gouldian finch biology
Pairs nest in tree hollows, with courtship taking place for months before nesting (3) (5). Males commence the courtship ritual with head bobbing, beak-wiping and ruffling the feathers to display the brilliant colours. The male holds his body and tail erect, expands his chest and fluffs the forehead feathers. The female may also follow with some beak-wiping. After the female lays the eggs, both the adults incubate the eggs and help to raise the young (3) (4). Gouldian finches may produce up to two broods in succession (3), with four to eight eggs per clutch (4).Top
Gouldian finch range
The Gouldian finch is endemic to northern Australia, where it occurs mainly in the north-west regions of the Northern Territory and in the Kimberley region of Western Australia (2) (3). It has also been occasionally recorded in Queensland (2).Top
Gouldian finch habitat
These beautiful finches prefer tropical savannah woodland with grassy understorey and open wide plains with hollow-bearing Eucalyptus trees (2).Top
Gouldian finch status
The Gouldian finch is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Gouldian finch threats
The Gouldian finch is threatened by habitat modification due to cattle grazing, wildfires and increasing human developments (2) (3). Cattle prevent grass from seeding, and therefore reduce food availability for these finches (2). Fires can also destroy large areas occupied by the Gouldian finch (2).
In the past, the removal of wild birds for aviary collections may have threatened the Gouldian finch, but trapping was banned in the early 1980s (3). However, all of these factors have reduced the viable breeding population of the Gouldian finch, and there at present estimated to be only between 2,500 and 10,000 mature individuals in the wild (2).Top
Gouldian finch conservation
A recovery plan is being developed for this colourful bird, and a range of conservation actions and monitoring work are underway within its range (2). Ironically, the removal of the Gouldian finch from its natural habitat has led to the creation of secure populations in aviaries worldwide (4).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the Gouldian finch and its conservation:
More information on the birds of Australia:
Authenticated (24/02/11) by Dr Sarah Pryke, Research Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.