I am Jeanie Ferguson, the founder and former owner of Flexibleflyers’ Aviary in Maryland.
For years I bred, raised and sold stunning quality Lady Gouldian Finches, and I have accumulated a great deal of knowledge on this topic.
Often I have heard that breeding Lady Gouldian finches is considered to be problematic. This website and my e-book are being created to assist you in getting set up easily so that you will enjoy the process of Gouldian finch breeding without becoming overwhelmed or discouraged.
I have raised primarily what are commonly called “normals,” (red heads, black heads, yellow heads, always with green backs).
Flexibleflyers’ Aviary did also produce a number of strong and healthy mutations. These common mutations raised at FFA were not produced by line breeding or in-breeding.
It is commonly accepted that those breeding practices more often than not produce weaker birds that often are unattractive and have other undesirable genetic abnormalities as well as usually shorter life spans.
Make sure to purchase your breeding pair from a reputable breeder. Start by locating the best known breeders in your area. If you are searching in the United States, you could contact The National Finch and Soft bill Society, ( www.nfss.org ), to get a list of clubs close to you.
You will then have no trouble acquiring healthy and strong birds from the very beginning. Look for bright smooth feathers, clear bright eyes without any discharge, an alert erect posture and nails of a safe length.
Avoid birds with ragged feather edges, bald spots, missing toes as well as those birds that are not alert or inquisitive when you approach their cage.
Successful breeding and rearing of Lady Gouldian finches in captivity requires duplicating for them, as much as possible, what the conditions would be in their native homes when they normally set about breeding.
Take care to use a cage in which your pair of Gouldians can get plenty of exercise and one that will provide space enough on perches for the future chicks.
As a rough guideline imagine your selected cage with six juveniles and two parents. Your mating pair may not have six chicks in one clutch, but it is entirely possible.
The correct sized cage should allow for each bird to hop around in a circle in one spot on their perches without bumping into each other. Have that picture in your mind when you go to buy the cage. You can see some examples of good cages on our Lady Gouldian Finch Resources section
Place the two perches as far apart as possible in the cage, but not so close to the back or side walls of the cage that the beautiful two, tapered tail feathers of the male in breeding plumage displays.
Since both male and female Gouldians like to perch and mostly occupy the top one third space of their cages, place the perches well above center. Now it’s time to start setting up the cage. First, gather all the necessary items that were listed in the section on cages.
Gouldian Finch Breeding - Optimal Temperatures
The proper temperature, humidity and lighting are very important issues to plan for when it’s time to set up for breeding.
An acceptable temperature for Lady Gouldian breeding pairs should be in the range 73 to77 degrees F, (23 to 25 degrees C), both day and night.
It can always be higher than 73 degrees, but not lower. Keep the humidity near the cage at a minimum of 55 to 65 percent.
Plan on acquiring a good humidifier and as mentioned before, buy one of the reptilian cage humidity gauges.
Be certain there are no drafts that would negatively impact your birds. Adequate lighting is another critical factor.
If you do not have enough natural sunlight, you must supplement. Be certain that the lighting you plan to obtain is labeled as being “full spectrum”. Bulbs or florescent tubes can be set on timers, and placed close to the breeding cages.
Because we can artificially duplicate a breeding season whenever we choose our domesticated birds do not all breed during any one certain season.
Caged birds usually will breed soon after a molt. During our artificially produced breeding cycle, your birds will need 14 hours of sunny daylight.
In Australia, breeding occurs between November and March. Domesticated Lady Gouldians can start breeding as early as six month of age.
Eleven or twelve month olds may be more successful at parenting than the younger birds. There is no one best way.
The birds will breed when they have what they need and are ready, six months or 12 month makes little difference to them.
Getting Ready for Gouldian Finch Breeding
It is time now to purchase a nest or nest box or if you are making your own nest box, to start to get it ready and placed either within or on the cage.
There are adorable little enclosed nests made of rattan or bamboo that hang on the inside of the cage which will work.
These will lessen the open flight area and it is very hard to observe what is going on in these nests. They are also very hard to clean and sanitize.
In the wild, these birds hunt for nesting spots in hollow three trunks.
Wooden or plastic nest boxes that hang on to the cage from the outside work well. The cages that I liked best have small doors in the upper side or end of the cage and toward the back. When the door is opened, the nest box hangs from the cage wire blocking the opening completely.
Lady Gouldian Finch Bamboo Breeding Nest
If there is no door for a nest box, a hole needs to be cut. There are lots of ways to create a covering for the hole when the breeding box is not in use. An abandoned cage is often a good source for a wire patch.
The nest box needs to be about 6 inches high by 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep. The entry to the box can be either a round opening, having a minimum of least a 2 inch diameter opening. This hole should be positioned slightly above the middle of the box so the young cannot fall out.
The plastic boxes will most likely have the top one third of the box front removed. Attach a small perch near or just below the opening for the birds to land on. Lady Gouldians breeding enjoy a short pause before entering the nest.
Once having landed, they will peer inside their nest boxes so as not to startle those already resting inside. Nest boxes need a rear opening as well that allows for brief observations and cleaning.
Flexible Flyers’ Aviary had great success with the plastic nest boxes. Finding them to be of less weight than wooden boxes they were easily secured with their own hooks and short bungie cords.
These boxes can quickly and thoroughly be cleaned and sanitized in a dishwasher for use again. Another plus is the addition of small slit like openings just big enough to improve ventilation for all inside.
I have always had success with parakeet-size boxes like these
I have also used cameras like these to enable me to see activity in the nest box.
Preparing a Gouldian Finch Breeding Nest Box
Now it’s time to provide the nest box with nesting material. Gouldian finches breeding are not the best nest makers. Making nests in a hollow logs or branches doesn’t require collecting a lot of material.
The nest boxes we provide aren’t naturally cozy. It is definitely important to give the birds a head start on nest building. My e-book lists various materials that have been used successfully. Flexible Flyers’ Aviary found coconut fibers, six to eight inches long to work the best.
By taking a hunk of the fibers, separating them somewhat and then wrapping them around your hand making a circle or a U shape they can easily be placed into the nest box and spread out as needed to line the entire box.
The fibers will automatically form a cozy hammock shape. Because the parents will want to add their own personal touches to their nest, be sure to place some loose coconut fibers inside their cage. Both male and female will share in adding these loose fibers too their nest.
They will create an indented spot in the bottom of their nesting material. The purpose of this is to keep their eggs close together during brooding. It is finally time to introduce the female to the male.
This should be done one or two days after placing the male in the cage. This delay gives the male time to become familiar, comfortable and more importantly the dominant figure already established in the cage.
Now that they are together, you will find that both finches really enjoy their bath times. Try to increase giving them separate water to bath in more often. Many different types of tubs can be found in pet stores.
Your birds will jump in and splashing water everywhere. The bath that confines the splashing best is one that is a plastic cube having one side open and only an inch or two deep for the water.
This covered tub is designed to cover the opening of the front of the cage. With a twist tie to hold the sliding front door open this cube hangs on the outside of the main door.
If the cube is a clear cube the birds will take to it much faster if the bottom is covered on the outside. The bird seemed to not like the idea of a bottomless bathtub.
Lady Gouldian Finch Mating Rituals
Continue to slowly and quietly observe your pairs. You will know when your birds are seriously ready. Gouldian finch breeding is about to start when the cocks starts singing melodiously, a long song for his mate.
He will stand erect beside his mate lower his face, almost touching his chin to his chest while sweetly vibrating. When the song ends, he will begin to hop up and down on the perch in front of his hen.
The hen will respond by lowering her head and quickly vibrating her tail feathers side to side. This is their called their courting behavior.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned and this courting behavior does not occur or is rejected. One bird can be too aggressive toward its mate.
Lady Gouldian Finch Mating Song
Separate these birds as they are an incompatible pair and hopefully will behave better with a different mate. As for the birds that display compatibility, after the male has finished his breeding dance, he may attempt to breed with the female while still on the perch.
Should you observe this attempt of the males, you will also observe that the male always fall off. Do not despair. The successful mating takes place in the privacy of their nest box.
One last pointer regarding safe lighting, it is prudent to provide a night light near the cage, even if you cover the cage at night. Should anything startle your birds at night, it will cause a fright to start.
The birds panic and go flying and thrashing blindly trying to find a perch. They are unable to orient themselves in the dark panic. A night light will provide enough light to enable them re-orient themselves quickly.
Without the night light your startled birds will continue their crashing about flying in fear and quite possibly wounding themselves or each other.
Gouldian Finch Mating Dance
We’ve got eggs!!!
If courting has gone well and you have observed both male and female going in and out of their nest box and otherwise being agreeable, there is a very good chance that in about five days after Gouldian finch breeding the hen will lay her first egg.
This most often occurs early in the morning. The hen will lay one egg each morning until she has completed her clutch. She will be in and out of the nest frequently until most of her eggs are laid.
Don’t worry if it looks as though the hen and cock are not settling down to brooding just yet. The number of eggs laid varies from pair to pair, but four to six is about average.
It is alright to take a quick look inside the nest box, preferably when the hen is out for food and water to check on things. Some pairs get very upset and nervous if their nests are examined too often, so open the back of the nest box very gently and quietly just enough to peek inside.
Gouldian finch eggs do an amazing thing. I don’t know if this is a common behavior for all finch eggs or not. The first eggs to be laid will wait to start development until all of the other eggs have been laid.
Because of this, the chicks will all hatch on the same day. This way all the chicks are developing at the same rate and it is unlikely that any would be larger or smaller than another.
All of the chicks will get an equal amount of food and attention and competition does not become a problem. It takes about eighteen to twenty-one days for incubation to be completed. Most breeders are eager to know if the eggs are viable and developing normally long before that.
After a week, a small pen light flashlight can be gently placed close to each egg in the nest. When the light is switched on, developing red blood vessels inside the egg will be easy to observe if the eggs are fertile.
The eggs will seem to darken somewhat as the chicks continue to grow and fill up the shell. If the eggs are not fertile or if death should occur, the eggshells will loose their luster and appear to have a yellow tint or cast instead of the normal lovely porcelain white color.
It is important to pay close attention to the temperature surrounding the nest box while the chicks are growing.
Additional warmth can be provided by hanging a reptile heat fixture near the nest box. Use a thermometer to determine how close or far the lamp should be placed to keep the nest box temperature between 78 and 82 degrees F.
Often just a regular light bulb placed near the box will provide enough additional warmth.
It’s Time to Hatch!
The chicks will hatch most often early in the morning. They will be a pink to peach almost transparent color.
The parents will eat the egg shells. The chicks will make a peeping sound for attention or as an announcement of their arrival.
The chicks will live the first one or two days on the yolks from their eggs. After that, the parents will actively go about taking over the feeding. Gouldian chicks have noticeable luminious, purple to blue nodules that protrude from the corners of their mouths. These are called papillae.
These tiny chicks will lift their large bobble like heads and point their open mouths upward while calling loudly for food. When looking into an otherwise dark nest box, these papillae reflect the incoming light, showing their parents directly where to place the food.
As time goes on the pinkish skin of the newly hatched chicks will darken. Feathers appear on the wings, tail, back and finally on the abdomen. It takes about 21 days for these chicks to become what we call juveniles.
At this time, all the young will have feathers in various shades of olive and tan. It is not until their first molt, usually about six months longer, that they get their adult feathers and show their beautiful colors.
At 21 days the young are now fully fledged, but still dependent on their parents for food. They can safely be considered independent and can be removed from the family cage about three weeks after fledging. This is usually about the time for the breeding pair to start laying a second clutch.
After three clutches, it is time to give your breeding pair a rest. This is time to change seasons, so to speak, for our domesticated birds.
Room temperature can be reduced, daylight hours should be shortened, nest boxes removed and food selections cut back nearly to the basic diet until molting begins. Molting birds require lots of protein.
Feathers, claws and beaks are made of keratin, which is a form of protein. A word to the wise, never cut back on spray millet.
Foster Parents Or Not?
There are differing views on the topic of fostering Lady Gouldian Finch eggs or chicks. It is my preference to leave the Gouldian pairs who are capable and who will raise their own young to do so.
It is unbearable however to watch chicks die needlessly. There are no clear explanations as to why some Goulds will throw their young out of their nests almost immediately after they hatch.
It does happen and frequently enough that I choose to keep some, usually three society finches in a separate cage as stand by or lifeguards. Societies don’t require a large cage. They can be fed the same diet and kept in the exact same environment as Goulds.
As soon as I have set my Gouldian finch breeding pairs up for breeding, I give the Society finches a couple of nest boxes too. It doesn’t matter what sexes the societies happen to be.
If they are all males, so much the better, as they will have no eggs of their own. If they are all females, clearly no eggs will be fertile. As foster parents both sexes will participate in caring for eggs or chicks placed in their nest boxes.
Purchase some artificial finch eggs and place them in the Societys’ nests. Hopefully the Societies will busy themselves sitting on them instead of laying their own eggs. Should something run afoul with a Gouldian pair, immediately substitute the Goulds eggs or chicks for the artificial eggs in a Societys’ nest box.
If it turns out that your Societies are both male and female and they start laying their own eggs, it is very important to dispose of those eggs. That seems a bit harsh even to me, but you may have to remind yourself that the Societies are there, in the lap of luxury, for the specific purpose of being available nannies to save the lives of Gouldians if needed.
Societies can have their own chicks at another point in time or not. Society finches are known as the mice of the bird world because they are very prolific breeders. If the Societies eggs are not removed and do hatch, the Society finches will not be available to foster Gouldians.
They will be busy taking care of their own chicks and they won’t care for the Goulds. That was never your plan. The societies that I keep are all related to one another.
That makes it easier for me to remove their eggs. Be prepared. Societies will make quite a fuss when you take away their eggs.
Substitute artificial eggs for society eggs to ease their feelings. That might even cause them to stop laying their own eggs.
Hand Feeding Baby Finches can be Done:
While I never had the personal experience of hand raising a Lady Gouldian chick, I have come to know this can be done.
Please enjoy the proof of this, as you watch some of the You Tube videos that are included here.
Gouldian Finch Hand Feeding Babies
Hand Feeding Baby Gouldians
Gouldian Finches Colony Breeding
Colony breeding means keeping several Gouldians together in one large flight cage or aviary. Male and female can choose their mates themselves.
Should you try this, be sure to put up a few extra nest boxes so these pairs will have plenty of nests to choose from. Outdoor aviaries in southern climates can be managed very nicely to simulate the wild.
When breeding in this manner is chosen, the finches can choose their own mates and nests and be left on their own to care for their own. However, close observation is rarely possible and breeding results are not as good as would be from a more controlled cage.
Colony breeding will be further discussed in my book, but for now the emphasis on this page is on controlling one breeding pair.
Do you have a Question about Gouldian Finch Breeding?
I am always writing new content for this page and for the site overall, so if you have any questions you would like me to answer, just submit your question in the form below and I will answer it as soon as possible.
Your questions will help to improve this website as it grows, so I really look forward to reading all your questions!
What Question Would You Like Answers to?
I will do my best to answer all your questions about the Lady Gouldian Finch care and breeding, so fire away!
See our other FAQ and my Answers here:
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I recently purchased a pair of Lady Gouldians but have this question.
About 10 years ago I purchased a pair of Lady Gouldians
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need help on breeding Not rated yet dear madam,
i am ananya from west bengal in india. i bought a pair of red head green back gouldian finch of about 1 year old from a breeder on 26/08/2012. …
need help on breeding Not rated yet dear madam,
i am ananya from west bengal in india. i bought a pair of red head green back gouldian finch of about 1 year old from a breeder on 26/08/2012. …
Nesting Not rated yet I have two pairs and two nesting boxes. A total of 12 eggs. I provide nesting material and it seems the females continue to try to carry nesting material …
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Start Breeding Not rated yet Hi all,
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