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LGF Health Tip
LGF Article by Jean Ferguson
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The information contained in my free E-zines is intended to add to the knowledge and pleasure that you will have while keeping these intelligent gorgeous Lady Gouldian finches happy and well. My promise to you and the goal of this web site is to continue accumulating and publishing current accurate information and ideas to improve the well being of Lady Gouldian finches.

Owning Lady Gouldian finches requires some knowledge and planning, but is not mystical or difficult in any way. It just requires obtaining complete and correct information, before you actually begin if possible. If this ezine and site can provide just one piece of information that helps you and your birds, I will have accomplished my mission.

These colorful little guys do have some specific needs that most other pet birds do not.

Many times information will vary from breeder to breeder leaving you perplexed and uncertain. Not a lot of accurate published information is readily available. Lady Gouldians do have some specific needs that are different from the care requirements for many other caged birds.

My e-zines will address issues of common concern such as what are the dietary needs for breeding and molting, how to recognize problems when pairing your finches for breeding, what to do if the newborn chicks get thrown out of the nest. What can be done to assist your birds if there is a problem and there is no avian veterinarian available.

I am not a veterinarian. My web site, news letters, tips and book do not dispense medical information. I write about my own experiences. Sometimes bad things happen. When that involves our Lady Gouldians, we want always to be as well prepared as possible to do the best we can. Not everyone has an avian veterinarian with Gouldian finch expertise available to them.

Not every bird keeper has access to experienced Gouldian breeders who will selflessly give their time to help when needed. I do not presume to give advice or to replace information from a veterinarian. Should your bird need help, find a vet!!!

Lady Gouldian Finch Health Care Tip #4

To the best of my knowledge, twirling is a condition found only in Lady Gouldian finches. An adult Gouldian suddenly becomes unable to maintain normal control of the positioning of its neck and head.

The bird will no longer be able to perch normally or calmly and will display a strange variety of twisting and distorted movements that can appear quite uncomfortable and bothersome. Some time ago a recessive genetic defect was identified in birds that show the signs of twirling.

Because the mutated gene is recessive and because the signs of twirling are rarely present until adulthood, breeding of birds with this mutated gene has continued unnoticed.

Australian finches are believed to have a higher need for trace elements, (arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, nickel, selenium, tin, vanadium and zinc), then do other domesticated finches from other parts of the world.

It has been considered that birds who carry the two recessive mutated genes and who also do not receive adequate amounts of the trace minerals will at some point in time exhibit the twirling trait.

To further complicate matters, Gouldians who carry the necessary two recessive mutated genes, but who are given sufficient trace minerals do not always develop visual signs and symptoms. Since the root cause for twirling is genetic, this is believed to be an irreversible condition.

One could still attempt to provide the missing and needed trace elements as an experiment as there is nothing left to try.

The Molting Lady Gouldian

Once a year all birds shed all of their feathers and grow new ones. Feathers get torn, edges get frayed and worn out and must be replaced.

In the wild the young, called juveniles, Lady Gouldians, will slowly begin their molt usually in August and it may continue into December. Mature Gouldians will start their molt in October and be finished usually by the end of November.

The weather in Australia, during the molting period, can cause a lot of stress particularly for the juveniles. It can be extremely hot in October and November and seeds are scarce.

Most seeds have already sprouted and the plants, grown far beyond the sprouting stage, are useless to Gouldians. The remaining seeds are from the previous year and their nutrients have become diminished.

If a prolonged dry spell was to come about during this time, no seeds would sprout. Fewer sprouting seeds mean less available protein. As the rainy season begins new seeds will start to sprout in December.

In captivity, molting for both the juveniles and mature birds can occur at the same time, usually molting starts after breeding has finished. This can be any time of the year because of the artificial environmental climates we have created for our birds.

Juveniles will take as long as three to six months before they go through their first molt. Feathers found lying on the bottom of the cage are most often the first signs of molting.

The abdomen feathers are first to be replaced and they are followed by the rump feathers. The next to be exchanged will be the breast and head feathers. The back and wing feathers are last.

The creation of a single feather is amazing! Diet during a molt must provide extra protein and carbohydrates.

This cannot be stressed enough. Extra carbohydrates are needed to provide the additional energy required to produce feathers.

The protein found in plant seeds and sprouts is not complete and alone will not provide the needed building materials for body tissues or for the creation of feathers. Animal protein must be added to the daily food.

Sprouted seeds and smashed hard boiled eggs should be offered daily during a molt. Wild Lady Gouldians will eat bugs to get the additional needed nutrients. A cooked egg is the best and easiest way to give our domesticated birds the animal protein.

Ninety percent of a feather is composed of protein. Minerals in feathers provide for depth of color and for their stiffness. Oils, fats and the essential fatty acids provide the feathers sheen and gloss.

The initial appearance of the head feathers can be quite startling if you have never witnessed a molt. The Gouldian will appear to have tiny little white things, even resembling some sort of insect larva hanging from its head feathers.

A closer look reveals the amazingly thin little tubes that contain the new feathers. These tubes are called pinfeathers. They will appear almost full length before something causes them to break and to reveal the unfolding feather contained inside.

Some times there can be an abnormal molt in which the new feathers are lacking in spots. A bird may have a difficult or delayed period for replacing the feathers.

This is called an abnormal molt and can be caused by a number of things. Almost every problem that could possible befall our Lady Gouldians, is blamed on nutrient deficiencies.

This is not always the case. Extreme or abrupt environmental condition changes, mite, lice, diseases, fear, shock, or the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland can be considered to disrupt a normal molt and sometimes bad things just happen.

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Baby finches left alone for the night

by Anna (Rumson,NJ)

I have society finches that fostering 3 gouldians, they about 11 days old and tonight for the first time they been left alone for the night.

Is that ok?? Will they be fine??

I hope that their foster parents will keep feading them tomorrow.

thank you

Anna Kaminska


Yes, the chicks should be old enough to go without being fed during the night.

Sounds as though the Societies are doing what they do best for you and your chicks.



Thank you for reading my newsletter, I will try to make sure all editions are informative and helpful to you and your Gouldians!

Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover in the newsletter, and I’ll try to oblige.

Remember also that you can post your questions direct online at: Gouldian Finch FAQ where you can also read my answers to other questions.

Jeanie Ferguson
“Lady Gouldian Finch Tips”

Severna Park
MD 21146, USA


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