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Range and abundance
The Gouldian Finch was once found across northern Australia, with an overall population in the millions. However, in recent decades the population has declined dramatically to an estimated 2,500 mature individuals. It now occurs in small flocks in a few locations in the Kimberley and the NT, although it is occasionally recorded in Queensland.
Gouldian Finches eat almost entirely grass seeds. They live in tropical savanna woodland with a grassy understorey that contains a mixture of their preferred annual and perennial grass species. They nest in tree hollows (Snappy Gum or Northern White Gum Eucalyptus brevifolia in the western part of its range and Salmon Gum E. tintinnans in the east). Gouldian Finches can live to more than 5 years of age in the wild, but mortality rates are high in the first year.
Altered fire regimes – especially an increase in extensive, hot wildfires in the late dry season – is the primary threat to the survival of the Gouldian Finch. 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) and feral cats. In the past, many birds were captured for the aviary trade although this was banned in the 1980’s.
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 the Artesian Range, Wongalara, Pungalina and possibly Brooklyn. We deliver effective conservation for the Gouldian Finch by implementing effective fire management (prescribed burning) and by removing feral herbivores. In addition, our field ecologists are undertaking vitally important research which has helped identify what needs to be done to reverse the decline in Gouldian Finches.