Tribute to John Gould

Trubute to John Gould. 1804 – 1881

In the year 1840 two very important events happened in Britain. First was the commencement of the Penny Post which involved the first postage stamp, the Penny Black. Later the Royal Mail postage came into being. To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the first Penny Black stamp being issued in Britain the Post Office issued a replica Penny Black stamp on the 20p stamps.

The second occurrence of that year, equally important to us, was the arrival back to England of John Gould after exploring parts of Australia, some of which had never been explored before. Amongst several live birds he brought back with him were some small green parakeets (Melopsittacus unduiatas) which we now know as the light green budgerigar.

This article is written as a tribute to him for introducing these birds to Britain and eventually to the world and through this providing pleasure to millions of people who have either kept them as pets or have bred and exhibited them.

John Gould was a naturalist explorer, brilliant artist and writer who had a great interest and love of birds. In 1830 he spent two years in the Himalaya mountains area. His method was to draw and paint birds when possible whilst watching them in the wild and having seen some of these paintings they are true in colour details and classical in every way. He returned to England in 1832 and wrote a book “Birds of the Himalaya Mountains”.  In 1838 he visited Australia and took his wife with him. From then on Australia was his main interest when exploring, due to the remarkable varied bird life there. He returned to England in 1840 and as already stated introduced the remarkable Budgerigar to the World. Although John Gould kept birds when in Britain his main aim in life was to introduce birds to people either through his paintings or through the live specimens he returned to Britain with. He was to experience great sadness a year after he brought the Budgerigars into Britain when his wife died.

It was said that he was never the same after this, even so he made further explorations in Australia and one of his discoveries was the most colourful of all seed-eating birds, the Gouldian Finch or as it is known in America and some other countries, Lady Gould’s Finch. I often wonder if he gave the bird this second name in memory of his wife, it is nice to know that an Australian Finch bears his name as a tribute to him.

To conclude, I think I speak for every budgerigar fancier when I say “Thank you John Gould

Written by Eric L Johns

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