Gouldian Finch

© Steve Murphy/AWC

Quick Facts

  • OFFICIAL NAME: Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae)
  • FAMILY: Passeridae (Grassfinches and Mannikins)
  • STATE CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered in NT: Endangered in QLD
  • SURVIVING POPULATION: 2,500 mature birds
What Is Awc Doing Martin Willis Gouldian Finch © Martin Willis

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects one of the largest remaining populations of the Gouldian Finch at Mornington-Marion Downs, as well as smaller populations at Charnley River, Wongalara, Pungalina and possibly Brooklyn. AWC’s field ecologists are undertaking vitally important research which has helped identify what needs to be done to reverse the decline in Gouldian Finches. AWC delivers effective conservation for the Gouldian Finch by implementing effective fire management through prescribed burning and by removing feral herbivores.

Ecofire Research Into Effects Of Fire On Mammal Survival, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary © Wayne Lawler/AWC

Threats to Species

The primary threat to the survival of the Gouldian Finch is altered fire regimes – especially an increase in extensive, hot wildfires in the late dry season. Wildfires reduce the availability of seed at key times during the year and limit the availability of tree hollows for nesting. Other threats include feral herbivores (which selectively graze key grass species). Gouldian Finches can live to more than 5 years of age in the wild, but mortality rates are high in the first year due to these threats. In the past, many birds were captured for the aviary trade although this was banned in the 1980’s.

Endangered W Lawler/AWC


Adult Gouldian Finches can be one of three different colour varieties: about 70-80% of birds have jet-black faces; 20-30% have scarlet faces; while gold-faced Gouldians are very rare (1 in 3000 birds). These colours exist through genetic variation (similar to the way in which humans can have blue, brown or green eyes).

Range and abundance

Found in tropical savanna woodland, Gouldian Finches eat almost entirely grass seeds, and nest in tree hollows (Snappy Gum or Northern White Gum Eucalyptus brevifolia in the western part of its range and Salmon Gum Eucalyptus tintinnans in the east).

Sanctuaries Where You Can Find the Gouldian Finch

© Nick Rains
Western Australia

Mornington – Marion Downs

Mornington – Marion Downs is a model for conservation in northern Australia, protecting nearly 6,000 square kilometres of the iconic...

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Northern Territory


Wongalara protects over 190,000 hectares of southern Arnhem Land, and includes the largest feral herbivore-free area on mainland Australia. It...

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Western Australia


Tableland Wildlife Sanctuary protects over 300,000 hectares of the remote central Kimberley, and provides a new model for integrating conservation...

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