The savannah region supports many beautiful critters but the brightly coloured feathers of the Gouldian Finch means that it beats most critters hands down in the pageant stakes.
Gouldian Finches are brightly coloured with black, green, yellow, purple and red feathers. Both sexes are similar in color except for in the chest area.
Female birds tend to have a paler mauve patch in this region while males favor showy violet. Most Gouldians have black faces but if you are really lucky you'll spot one of the 20% of birds that have bright red faces.
Youngsters are much less colorful than their elders and are olive green with pale grey heads and necks and black beaks.
Gouldians eat native grass seeds and live in areas with a mix of different grasses giving them access to seed year round. Like most birds Gouldians need daily access to water and tend to be nomadic within a small area, following seasonal water and food sources.
Gouldian Finches nest in tree hollows and love the bright orange trunked Salmon Gums that grow on the rocky slopes of Nitmiluk National Park.
They usually breed in the early part of the dry season when food is plentiful. The male finch is a bit of a showoff and dances around fluffing his chest feathers to attract the ladies but once the deed is done this sensible bird is an equal opportunity critter with both parents sharing incubation and chick feeding duties.
The Gouldian Finch is considered a threatened species.
Changes in fire regime have affected the availability of nest hollows and seeding grasses and in the last few decades the population has thought to have plummeted to a few thousand individuals.
While it was once common across the Top End it is now really only seen in the Kimberly, the NT and occasionally in Queensland.
This rare bird can often be spotted quite close in to the 'burbs of Katherine.
Plan a trip out west this school holidays, check out the local National Parks at www.nt.gov.au/parks. There is so much to explore and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of our tiny local treasures.
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