If you are an experienced Australian birdwatching enthusiast, then undoubtedly you have heard of the Gouldian Finch, even if you have not had the privilege of seeing one in the wild. This spectacular bird has gained a lot of media attention in recent years due to its declining numbers, due to reduced habitat. Many birdwatchers agree that this finch is the most spectacularly coloured bird in Australia. There are a number of organisations that have taken to preserving the habitats of this remarkable creature. Recent research has found that there are only about 2,500 Gouldian Finch’s living in the wild.
The little bird gained it’s name from John Gould, the discoverer of the bird. Taken by the beauty of the purple chested bird, he named it the Lady Gouldian. With it’s characteristic purple plumage, yellow feathered chest and green back, this little bird is hard to be mistaken.
As a grass-finch, the Gouldian Finch main diet source is from the ripe or semi-ripe seeds of native grasses. Interestingly for a few months during the year the bird changes its diet to cope with the arduous task of raising its young. During these months the birds diet consists mainly of small insects, which provide it with the added nutrients needed during this stressful period.
It really is a tragedy when one considers the vast habitat that the Gouldian Finch once lived in, contrasted with the small areas that it occupies now. Many birdwatchers initially thought that the numbers of the Gouldian Finch were plummeting in the wild due to individuals capturing the birds for pets. Research has since shown that reduced habitats, and irregular fire patterns are primarily to blame for the reduced habitat. Nowadays the finch can only be found in the wild in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia. Mike Jarvis, one of the most respected birdwatching guides in Australia, regularly takes tours through the Mary River district and South of Pine Creek in the dry season, with great success with regular spotting’s of this endangered bird. If you are able to explore this region, keep an eye out for the finch in open woodlands near water sources. There is anecdotal evidence that they are often sighted near native spear-grasses.
How To Help The Gouldian Finch
Many kindhearted volunteers regularly monitor local waterholes in the Gouldian Finch’s native habitat to keep an eye out for the sightings. The more information that organisations can gather from volunteer birdwatchers on the habitat of the Gouldian Finch, the more that they can help protect that environment. Additionally individuals can take active steps to ensure that the current habitat of the bird is protected, and report any activities that are harming the area.
There have been new spotting’s of the Gouldian Finch in the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia. Research has shown that this is not a population of birds that has moved to the area, but a population that has previously been undiscovered. This breeding population shows the importance of amateur birdwatchers reporting any sightings of the Gouldian Finch, as this area is now a protected area. With ongoing care and public awareness, generations of Australian will be able to enjoy seeing this most remarkable bird in the grasslands of Australia.