Uniting beauty and sweetness, this is an excellent bird to have as a pet.
With the beauty of its lively and definite colors, and also the very docile temperament, the Lady Gould is one of the favorite pet birds.
This name was given to it by the first ornithologist who studied this species, John Gould, in honor of his wife Elizabeth, when she died. A very capable designer, she had registered in drawings, the beauty of the birds the couple had researched together, in expeditions held in the 19th century.
The Lady Gould, bred for over 100 years in captivity, has adapted so well to domestic breeding, it doesn't bother when people are close, and stays calm when anyone puts food in the cage, showing no fear. This is extraordinary, if we keep in mind the fact that, when in the nature, this bird doesn't go down to the ground to drink water unless it perceives absolute security, flying as long as three hours, sometimes, just to find a safe place to drink. This acquired trust doesn't mean, however, that the place where it stays doesn't require certain care, in order for it to live and breed well. It is common for this bird to live more than 10 years, if treated adequately.
It is recommended that before getting envolved with a Gould, one should have had some experience with rougher species, such as the Canary, Australian Parakeet and Bengalese. This is recommended because the Gould is a little more delicate, but not to the point of meaning trouble for the owner.
As to the breeding, in most cases (there are exceptions) this species doesn't give any attention to its babies, requiring the use of nursemaid, as the Bengalese, to hatch eggs and take care of the little ones until they are independent.
The Gould gets along with other birds as the Starfinsh, Mandarin, Bengalese and others, mainly in aviaries, which are more spacious. Overpopulation and aggressive species should be avoided.
The interest for the breeding of this bird has grown with the appearance, specially in the past 10 years, of mutations with new colors and markings (see picture).
Size: About 12 cm.
Colors: Original - red, black or orange. Chest: violet. Abdomen: golden yellow. Mantle: bright green. Mutations - head: yellow or gray. Chest: white, pink or blue. Abdomen: beige. Mantle: yellow, light gray, blue, etc.
Housing: Should permit sun bathing, and offer some protection. Cage: for one couple, at least 60cm long x 30cm profundidade x 35cm high. Aviary: made of concrete, with only the front part in canvas, facing the North, 3m long x 1 m wide x 2,10m high; tile floor 15cm thick and 1/2 inches canvas.
Accessories: In cages, 2 perches, 10mm in diameter, far from each other, and far from laterals, to avoid harming the tail feathers. Tree branches are also a good option, but only in aviaries. Place a bathtub for the daily bath, which helps keep the plumage in good conditions. Always leave a cuttlefish bone for calcium, and mineralized sand to help digestion.
Feeding: A seed mix: 25% birdseed, and 75% millet daily. In alternate days, vegetables. In nature, this bird eats grass, seeds, vegetable sprouts, insects (both adult and larva), eventually it eats fruit, and even polen.
Sexual Identifications: The male has more lively colors, specially on the chest, and the tail is longer. It courts the female by moving, exposing plumage and singing. In the mating period the female's beak grows darker, while male's beak gets lighter.
Mating: It is not recommended to breed two recessive birds (orange head or white chest or blue matle), because this produces smaller babies, more susceptible to diseases, or they can be born with genetic problemas. Breed the recessive with a dominant whose parent is recessive.
Breeding: After 10 months old the female lays 5 to 8 eggs which hatch after 15 to 17 days. If she doesn't lay eggs, it may because of constant moving of the cage; or female is either too young or too old, or for lack of interest of the male (it is easy to check if he doesn't court the female). To try and interest him, separate him from female during one month. When babies are independent, at about 45 to 50 days old, separate them from parents, to initiate another bearing. After 3 bearing let the couple rest for one month. There will be 6 bearings each year when female doesn't hatch. If female hatches, then there should be 3 bearings per year. Use a wooden nest of 20(length) x 14 x 14cm, with a 4,5 cm high division, one room for the eggs (13 x 14) and another (7 x 14) for the first steps of the baby birds. In this last one there should be a round opening in the upper half. Lid should have 3 holes in each extremity, for air circulation. Japanese grass or grass roots for bedding. Birds are sensitive to nest inspection, so those should be done at sunset.
Raising Babies: Parents who were, by their turn raised exclusively by their parents, and not by nursemaids, are more zelous. If they grow accostumed to the help of a nursemaid, they will hardly breed without her in the future.
For more information: Tel. (0152) 28-2057, Cesar Ramon
Reading Material: A Guide to Gould Finches, published by Australian Birdkeeper, Australia, tel. (006175) 24-6616. Fax: 24-6535.
We would like to thank Cesar Ramon Del Rio, breeder of
Gouldion Finches, Sorocaba, São Paulo, for his assistance in the making
of this report, and editing this text. We would also like to thank Paulo Flecha,
bird breeder, for his help in the text review.
Research: Carmen Olivieri. Text editor: Marcos Pennacchi
Picture: Fernando Torres de Andrade
Owner: Cesar Ramon del Rio