Dos and don'ts for bird lovers wanting to keep Gouldian finches as pets

  • Animals
  • Monday, 13 May 2019

The Gouldian finch's quiet song and relatively easy upkeep makes it a popular pets. But experts warn that buyers should only purchase them from registered breeders, as they are endangered in the wild. Photo: dpa

With their brightly coloured feathers, which come in lots of different constellations, Gouldian finches are some of Australia's most spectacular birds. Their quiet song and relatively easy upkeep have also made them popular pets.

However, experts warn that buyers should only purchase them from registered breeders, and check the location where they have been bred.

That's because the birds, once found in their millions across northern Australia, are now endangered in the wild, with only an estimated 2,500 mature adults left, according to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy charity. There has been a ban on their export since 1960.

"Gouldian finches are very sociable animals and in the wild they live in flocks," says Lea Schmitz from the German Animal Welfare Federation. If you're intent on keeping them as pets, she therefore advises buying several pairs.

Ornithologist and zookeeper Guenther Schleussner says they are easier to look after than other species such as budgerigars and parrots, but their needs shouldn't be underestimated.

Coming from the tropical savannah of the Australian north, the birds like the warmth. "Gouldian finches need temperatures of at least 20°C. They're very sensitive to the cold," Schmitz says.

They also enjoy much higher temperatures and Schmitz says humidity in the area where they are kept should be kept at around 60%. And they need lots of light, up to 14 hours a day. An outdoor aviary should work well, as long as it has a heated indoor area for the colder months.

Alternatively, bird owners could keep their aviary by the window or use UVA and UVB lamps, says Schleussner.

The finches should be allowed to fly around inside for several hours each day. If that's not possible, Schleussner says their aviary must have an area of at least 2sqm and a height of 2m.

The birds also like variety. They need at least four different perches at different heights, preferably in the form of various branches. "Sand and water baths should also be available to them," says Schmitz.

Feeding the birds is relatively uncomplicated. They mostly eat small, soft seeds like sorghum, but will also eat fruit and vegetables. Cuttlebones, which are essential for calcium, and fresh water are also a must. – dpa

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