A group of researchers, government employees and volunteers are working to save the beautifully coloured Gouldian finch in the Kimberley.
Story By Alicia Bridges
Flocks of thousands of Gouldian finches used to inhabit the vast unpopulated floodplains and savannahs of the East Kimberley. In his book When Gouldians Filled the Sky, Wyndham author Reginald Birch, who used to trap the birds when it was legal in the 1970s, recalls catching hundreds of Gouldians one morning. “Many times I stood spellbound, observing the multi-coloured carpet of Gouldian finches as they settled on the ground before me,” he wrote.
Now, only about 2500 Gouldian finches remain in the wild. It’s estimated millions of the birds are kept in aviaries around the world, and their unique colouring has earned them a cult following among bird enthusiasts. But in the Kimberley, research suggests their food sources and habitats are rapidly disappearing due to bushfires, some lit by arsonists, which burn down the tree hollows where they nest and raze the sorghum grasses they eat.
This story excerpt is from Issue #90
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2013