Gouldian finch

Chloebia gouldiae

SUBFAMILY

Erythrurinae

TAXONOMY

Amadina gouldiae Gould, 1844. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Rainbow finch, painted finch, lady Gould, purple-breasted finch; French: Diamant de Gould; German: Goul-damadine; Spanish: Pinzón de Gould.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

4.9-5.5 in (12.5-14 cm). The most brightly colored estrildid, this species is sexually dimorphic; females have a shorter tail and a paler breast. Juveniles are a duller, paler version of the adults. Black-headed, red-headed, and yellow-headed varieties exist naturally in the wild. The black-headed is the common morph (75% of the population) while only one in several thousand is of the yellow-headed variety.

DISTRIBUTION

Fragmented areas in north-central Australia.

HABITAT

Found in dry grassland, plains, areas near water, forest edges, scrubland, and savanna woodland.

BEHAVIOR

Found in flocks of up to several hundred individuals. This shy species tends to avoid areas inhabited by humans. The call is a "sit," "ssit-ssit," or a "sree." The song is a very soft, almost inaudible series of whispers, hisses, whinings, and clicks.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds among grasses on a variety of seeds, especially those of sorghum, and on diverse insects and spiders, especially during the breeding season. Drinks in a pigeon-like manner.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeds from November to April during which it builds a globular nest without an entrance tube and sometimes without a roof. Occasionally this species will also use holes in trees or termite mounds as a nesting site. Four to seven white eggs are incubated for 14-15 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Endangered. The decrease in numbers is thought to be due to widespread burning of grasses and increase in grazing within its native range.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Commonly kept and bred in captivity where young are often fostered by Bengalese or society finches, a domesticated form of the white-backed munia (Lonchura striata). In captivity this species has an unusually high predisposition to the air sac mite

(Sternostoma tracheacolum). ♦

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