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LGF Health Tip
LGF Article by Jean Ferguson
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Lady Gouldian Finch 14 Health Care Tips

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 #5

Star-gazing is frequently thought to be the same as twirling, but it is not. Star-gazing is a rare diagnosis that shows up in growing nestlings.

The head of the young bird will appear to twist backwards and upwards, (being the reason for the term, star-gazing). Insufficient amounts of two nutrients, (manganese and thiamine), should be considered.

A genetic mutation could have produced birds that have greater needs for one or the other of these nutrients than their siblings. A deficiency of manganese reportedly causes a defect in the inner ear where balance is controlled.

The head of a bird with this deficiency will face sideways, backwards and straight up. By immediately offering small cups of foods with high concentrations of manganese such as ground nuts, cloves, and /or ground tea leaves, you may at least give your Gouldian a chance for recovery.

A thiamine insufficiency is rare in finches since it is naturally present in the whole grains finches regularly eat, but it would be foolish not to offer supplemental thiamine in the diet, if that is the cause, the symptoms of star-gazing are said to subside once the correct amount is satisfied.

Lady Gouldian Mutations In A Small Nut Shell

The beautiful blue-backed Lady Gouldian finch is an extremely sought after mutation. The word mutation is defined as, “a sudden variation in some inheritable characteristic of an individual animal or plant as distinguished from a variation resulting from generations of gradual change,” by Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Somewhere along the way in the 1970’s a change took place in the genes of some Lady Gouldian finches being kept in Europe and blue-backed Lady Gouldians hatched. The precise cause for this change is unknown.

We do know that a gene exists in the blue-backed bird that is different from what would be the same gene found in normal Gouldians. This mutated gene causes the birds to be unable to absorb carotene from food.

Carotenes are red or orange pigments found in carrots and certain other fruits and vegetables. A deficiency in carotenes will cause a decrease in pigmentation which leads to color changes in developing feathers.

Therefore blue-backed Lady Gouldians with this mutated gene are unable to produce red or yellow pigments for their feathers. This explains why the red color of a genetically red headed, blue-back Gouldian is visually a light tan or a straw color.

The black-head of the black-headed, blue-back bird is visually still black and logically unaffected by the genetic mutation. Blue-backed Gouldians will also have light tan or flesh colored feet and beaks. The usual red or orange tip color of their beak will not be present.

The blue-backed Lady Gouldian is known to be a more fragile or delicate blue-backed-birds. Birds that are, in general, less hardy.

The genes for blue-backs are called sex linked genes because both parents must each must possess at least one gene for blue. The genes for blue are also both recessive genes.

There are two recommended pairings that will produce blue-backed-chicks. One is to obtain a blue-backed bird and mate it to a split-to-blue bird.

A split-to-blue is a bird that is visually not blue-backed, but carries one recessive gene for blue and one dominant gene for whatever the color it is. The second possibility for creating blue-backed-chicks is by pairing two birds, each of which is a split-to blue.

It is never recommended to pair two blue-backed birds, as the offspring are likely to be even more fragile than the one blue parent. The chicks from this pairing will be either blue-backed or split to blue.

However there will be fewer blue-backed chicks from a pairing of these. As an example, let’s say the male is the visually blue bird, having two recessive genes, ( xx ).

The female is the split-to-blue having one recessive gene and one dominant gene, ( xX ). The possible chicks will be, ( xx’s) and ( xX’s).

In other words, the chances of creating a blue-backed chick are fifty percent. It is possible that half of the clutch could be blues.

When pairing two split-to-blues each being, ( xX ) and ( xX) the possible outcomes will be, ( xx ), ( xX ) or ( XX ).

Approximately one third of the clutch will be blue-backed Lady Gouldians.

Mutations commonly available in addition to the blue-backed Lady Gouldians have not been given quite as much attention or examination. There is very little available research about the genetic changes in these birds.

What information is available is extremely complicated and contradictory. Suffice it to say; white-breasted Lady Gouldians, yellow-backed Lady Gouldians, dilute-backed Lady Gouldians, and lilac-breasted Lady Gouldians are well established mutations.

They are relatively easy to acquire and they are not known to be frail or weak as the blue-backed mutation is.

Mutations currently that are considered to be rare are; blue-breasted Lady Gouldians, Cinnamon Lady Gouldians, Japanese ‘red-eye factor’ Lady Gouldians, turquoise or Australian-blue Lady Gouldians and silver-backed Lady Gouldians.

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Gouldian finch care consists of always providing a quality finch seed mixture that consists primarily of plain canary seed, white proso millet, oat groats and niger seeds. At Flexibleflyers’ Aviary we provided our birds with a variety of small amounts of organically grown, pesticide free fresh fruits and vegetables.

It became evident very quickly that our Gouldians did not care for fruit. They would however devour what breeders commonly call, “greens.” These are vegetables having the darkest green leaves, romaine lettuce for example is acceptable for Gouldians where as iceberg lettuce is not.

At FFA we found that our birds especially enjoyed chickweed, collard greens, and cabbage , as well as romaine lettuce. In my ebook you will find a comprehensive list of the edible vegetation that is desirable, safe and nutritious to offer Gouldians.

Take note and remove any greens not eaten within a few hours. This will assure that your birds won’t go back for seconds from wilted or decomposing plant material.

Filtered water or bottled water is preferred to tap water in the U.S. Plastic water bottles or vacuum water bottles, (bottles with ball bearings at the outlet), that hang on the outside of the cage are the easiest to use and do the best job of keeping the water from being fouled with droppings or by bathing birds.


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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