Gouldian Finches are Australia’s most spectacularly coloured grassfinches, and are perhaps the most spectacularly coloured of all Australian birds.
The Gouldian Finch is mostly silent, although a high-pitched whistling “ssitt” may be uttered from time to time. Bird call recorded by: Krzysztof Deoniziak
Gouldian Finches are small birds, with a bright green back, yellow belly and a purple breast.
About 75% of Gouldian Finches have black faces, with the red-faced variety comprising the majority of the remaining 25%. Yellow-faced birds occur from time to time, with the the yellow colour resulting from a lack of red pigment in the red-faced birds.
The males are brighter in plumage than the females.
Young Gouldian Finches are dull ashy grey on the head and hind neck, becoming olive on the back and tail. The underparts are brown white, paler on chin, and have a faint yellow tinge on the belly. The upper bill is blackish and the lower bill is pinkish white. The end of the beak is tipped with red and there are pale nodules on the gape.
Although there are no separate subspecies of the colourful Gouldian Finch, there are three separate forms of the species. There is a common black-headed form, red-headed form, and a seldom-seen yellow-headed form.
Except for the distinct facial feather colours, the plumage across all three forms remains consistent, showcasing a captivating blend of pale blue, emerald green, regal, and yellow.
The Gouldian Finch is patchily distributed in tropical northern sub-coastal areas from Derby, Western Australia, to the Gulf of Carpentaria and thinly to central Cape York Peninsula, but is locally common in the north and north-western parts of its range.
As with most other grassfinch species, the Gouldian Finch is seldom found far from water, and needs to drink several times during the day. Throughout its range the species inhabits the edges of thickets, savannas dotted with trees and mangroves.
Unlike other Australian finches, they do not place their nests in shrubs and other vegetation. They prefer to nest in tree hollows and occasionally holes in termite nests.
During non-breeding periods, the Gouldian Finch displays a semi-nomadic behaviour, often making local movements within a few kilometers to find food resources. Birds move in quite large flocks and can cover substantial distances in search of sustenance when necessary.
For most of the year Gouldian Finches feed mostly on ripe or half-ripe grass seeds. Birds feed in small to large groups, and food may be taken on the ground or in flight.
The Gouldian Finch breeds in small social colonies.
It is the only grassfinch that nests exclusively in tree hollows or holes in termite mounds. Several pairs may share a single hollow. Rarely, birds will construct a dry grass nest in a bush or tree.
Two or three broods may be reared in a season, with both parents sharing incubating (13 days) and brooding duties. The nestling period is 21 days.
Breeding has been recorded in all months except October, and eggs recorded December through August. Peak of egg laying is April in the Northern Territory