Breeding the blue Gouldian finch

The blue Gouldian finch is one of the most prized and attractive colour mutations in aviculture. The mutation first appeared in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the seventies that anyone had success producing them in good numbers.


The blue Gouldian finch mutation is an autosomal recessive trait. From Finch Information Center’s Definitions of Terms:

Autosomal – “Of or relating to any chromosome other than the sex chromosomes,” a characteristic inherited on any gene pair other than the sex chromosomes.”
Recessive – “A genetic character or factor that will only be phenotypically expressed when present on both loci of a homologous pair (homozygous or double factor).”

In order to display the blue colouration, a finch must posses two copies of the blue gene. A bird possessing a single copy cannot express the blue color, but still has the potential to produce blue offspring if its partner can provide a second copy of the blue gene. These finches are referred to as splits and cannot be visually distinguished from a bird that does not carry the blue gene.

Breeding Blue Gouldian Finch

The blue Gouldian mutation was established through poor breeding practices, in highly controlled environments; using medication and inbreeding to quickly produce large numbers. Although significant work has been put into establishing strong, healthy lines of blue Gouldians, these birds are still quite weak compared to normal Gouldians.

Most breeders recommend pairing a blue bird with a “split to blue” bird to produce blue young. Two visibly blue birds should not be paired to avoid further weakening the blue Gouldian gene pool. A blue bird can be paired with a normal bird (not carrying the blue gene) to produce “split to blue” birds to strengthen your bloodlines and provide potential partners for visibly blue birds.

Care Requirements

As mentioned previously, Blue Gouldians are genetically weaker than normal Gouldians; so special care needs to be taken when housing them. An environment with a lot of space, plenty of shelter, excellent food and water and very few stress sources (don’t overcrowd them!) is ideal. A strict worm and disease control regime is also critically important.

18 thoughts on “Breeding the blue Gouldian finch”

  1. I have blue gouldians and I would like to find out what’s the name or brand of the worming and disease control.It is a lot of work even keeping them alive needs plenty of money and time.thank you Tommy

  2. I use a uvb light for reptiles and all my blue-black gouldians never died on me uvb help them with calcium plus you will never have any problems with babies dying on you.

  3. In addition to a lowered immune system, it has been our experience that the blue mutation has a lowered ability to process pro vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for growth, healthy skin, mucous membranes, and good vision. Vitamin A deficiency effects the epithelial lining membranes of the respiratory, alimentary, and reproductive tracts. This is why we often see sinus & respiratory infections in birds with a vitamin A deficiency.

    Mucous membranes are the bodies first defense against bacteria. When a vitamin A DEFICIENCY is present, the lack of healthy mucous membranes allows infection to gain entry into the body.

    Vitamin A is stored in the liver and found only in animal tissue, though carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A from plant sources. Therefore, a diet high in vitamin A goes a long way to keeping them healthy (or healthier depending on genome).

    Spirulina is one food that contains relatively high levels of vitamin A along with trace amounts of necessary iodine (which aids the thyroid – the thyroid drives many organs and bodily functions), is easily fed to the birds, and easily recognizable in the fecal samples (to confirm they are getting it into their system). It doesn’t take much to really help so is a cost effective means of delivering the vitamin. Merely sprinkling it over their food as if you were salting your own food is usually enough when starting with relatively healthy birds.

  4. I was sold a yellow gouldian and told it was split to blue. If I want a blue offspring. Do I need another split to blue

  5. I recently purchased two juvenile females at a bird show. The father is a blueback male w/ a red head. The mother is a yellow back female with a red head. I wonder what the babies will look like at maturity? They were hatched Jan 2018. Very helpful information regarding Vit A and other things necessary to keep them healthy.

    • Specialist breeders, mostly. Check with local bird clubs or the classified sections for hobbyist magazines in your country.

  6. I have a blue black head hen who days developed a cyst/Timor over her eye. It is nearly as big as a pea. I had a similar situation in the past. Is it a genetic problem?

  7. My blue back male gouldian gave my six offsprings with a green back(not split to blue) female. The offsprings will be all split to blue, or mixed with green backs?

  8. Green, to make green you need blue and yellow. So a green bird has both colors. Now a yellow bird has the recessive gene, so by breeding a yellow bird to a green bird you are introducing the gene to eliminate one color. Now how this plays out is a dice toss, what this means is you might get blue or yellow or green babies, the head colors play a part in causing the color mutations as well. I’ve used black head green body with white head or red head yellow back to produce black head blue back babies. I’ve also got grey head yellow backs as well. But the majority of the offspring were green backs and pastel green backs. Hope this helps, just sharing my experience with you.

  9. In order to display the blue colouration, a finch must posses two copies of the blue gene. A bird possessing a single copy cannot express the blue color, but still has the potential to produce blue offspring if its partner can provide a second copy of the blue gene.

    This is not correct. Gouldians, like many birds, deposit yellow pigment in their feathers. They also have melanin below the cloudy layer in their feathers, which produces structural blue. Blue and yellow give the green colour. In order to display the blue colouration, the bird must lack both copies of the gene for yellow pigmentation.

    Since males have 2 equal sex chromosomes, they can have 2 copies of the sex-linked gene for melanin deposition, males lacking both yellow genes can be either blue (having both wild-type melanin genes), or pastel blue (having one wild-type and one mutated gene for melanin deposition). This demonstrates a gene dosage effect. Females have different sex chromosomes (the opposite of mammals), and can only have a single copy of the gene for melanin deposition. Therefore females can only be blue if they lack both copies of the yellow gene. Or, if their melanin gene is mutated, they will be silver.

    As an aside, the salmon colour in the head of either genetically red or yellow head birds is produced by phaelomelanin (ginger hair in humans). This pigment is deposited below the red or yellow pigment in the head feathers and is absent in black head. Red +red = Red. Red + Yellow = orange head.
    Phaeomelanin is also deposited in the breast. Red + Structural Blue = Purple.