The Gouldian Finch, Erythrura gouldiae (or Chloebia gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch, Gould's Finch or Rainbow Finch , is a colourful passerine bird endemic to Australia. There is strong evidence of a continuing decline, even at the best-known site near Katherine in the Northern Territory. It is bred in captivity, but is an endangered species, with less than 2,500 left in the wild. It is subject to a conservation program.
Exported to Europe, the United States and Japan has provided this bird with a number of colour mutations such as the blue back, pastel, silver, yellow back and even white.
Gouldian Finches are about 130–140 mm long. Both sexes are brightly coloured with black, green, yellow, red and other colours. The females tend to be less brightly coloured. This is thought to be so that they are less noticeable when sitting in a nest, while a colourful male can distract predators away from the nest, thereby ensuring the survival of the young. One major difference between the sexes is that the male's chest is purple, while the female's is a lighter mauve colour.
Gouldian Finches' heads may be red, black, or yellow. People used to think they were three different kinds of finches, but now it is known that they are just colour variations. Selective breeding has also developed mutations (blue, yellow and silver instead of green back) in body colour and breast colour.
Juveniles have distinctive colours. Their heads, sides and necks are grey, and their backs, wings and tail feathers are olive green. Their undersides are pale brown. Beaks are blackish with a reddish tip. Their legs and feet are light brown. Newly hatched Gouldian finches are pink and naked until about 12 days old when the beginnings of feathers start to appear. Very young birds also have blue, shiny structures on the sides of their beaks to help their parents see them in the dark.
Actions have been taken and are underway to implement a recovery plan to recover and conserve its natural habitats, such as building protective fencing to prevent damage by herbivores. There is also detailed research on fire, food and movements at two sites to review its distribution, habitats, potential threats and conservation status of savanna granivorous birds. It was also proposed to find more suitable habitat for its conservation. Attempts at reintroduction have so far proved unsuccessful; however, they will continue a reintroduction program in eastern Queensland. It was also suggested to develop management guidelines for land-holders about appropriate land management, promoting the recovery programme and Gouldian Finches conservation.
Gouldians bond and mate for life. In captivity mating is more elastic. They usually breed in the last part of the rainy season, when there is plenty of food around. The male courtship dance is a fascinating spectacle. When a male is courting a female, he bobs about ruffling his feathers to show off his colours. He expands his chest and fluffs out his forehead feathers. After mating, a female lays a clutch of about 4–8 eggs. Both parents help brood the eggs during the daytime, and the female stays on the eggs at night. When the eggs hatch, both parents help care for the young. Gouldian Finches leave the nest at 3 weeks of age.
Young Gouldians are very fragile until they get their final moult. There are beliefs held by breeders that parent-raised Gouldians will be more successful breeders than Gouldians that are fostered by other species, such as society or spice finches.
Current research has cast doubt on the need for grit (gravel) and cuttlebone in a bird's diet. Grit is now thought to have been accidentally ingested by ground feeding birds.