Adelaide Rosellas

The Adelaide Rosella (Platycercus adelaidae) is endemic to South Australia. This was thought to be a separate species, but is presently believed to have originated through interbreeding of the Crimson and Yellow Rosellas. Both of these still interbreed with the Adelaide Rosella where its range crosses theirs, and it exhibits variation in its plumage from dark orange-red in the south of its distribution to a pale orange-yellow in the north. Variants that are very close to the Yellow race are designated subadelaidae.

Although the ranges of the Crimson and Yellow forms overlap along the entirety of the Murray River, in this area they seem to prefer different habitats and do not interbreed.


The Adelaide Rosella averages 13.5 – 14.4 inches or 35 – 36 cm in length.

The plumage is generally pale to strong orange-red. The forehead, lores (the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head) and crown are orange-red. The sides of head and nape (back of a bird’s neck) are orange-yellow. The cheeks are violet-blue. The abdomen and breast are yellow more or less strongly tinged orange-red. The bend of wing and outer median wing-coverts are bright blue. The upperside of the middle tail-feathers are dark violet-blue and with dark green base. The outer tail feathers are dark blue with bright blue edging and paler tips. The tail underside is pale bluish.

The bill is horn-colored-grey. They have narrow grey eye rings and the irides (plural of iris) are dark brown. The feet are grey.

Females are on average smaller and often suffused more with orange. The pale wing-stripe is occasionally present. They have smaller and narrower bills.

Sexing young birds can prove difficult and DNA sexing may be the only way to know for sure at a young age. However, it may be possible to sex birds that are at least 9 months as the molt into adult plumage.

Immature birds: The orange-red plumage of adults are olive-green in immatures except for the forehead, crown, upper cheek area, throat, parts of upper breast, thighs and under tail-coverts. The inner median wing-coverts and outer secondary-coverts are dull olive-green. The under wing-coverts are dull blue. The upperside of middle tail-feathers are dark olive-green with blue-black tips. The tail underside is pale grey-blue. The pale wing-stripe is present.

Young birds attain the adult coloration after their second molt – when they are about 12 to 16 months old. At that time they also become sexually mature.


Natural Diet:

In their natural habitat, they mostly feed on grass and tree seeds (including sprouted seeds that dropped to the floor and were exposed to humidity), as well as a variety of fruits, berries, flowers and nectar.

Additionally, they take insects in their larvae – particularly during the breeding season, when they require more protein in their diet.

They forage in the trees and shrubs, as well as on the ground – usually in shaded areas.

Captive Diet:

A good Rosella diet should consist of canary seed, a mixture of millets, sunflower and safflower. Most people will use a Cockatiel seed mix with added Canary seed. They also enjoy fresh fruits and veggies such as apples, blackberries, oranges, cucumbers, sweet potato and mango. Kale, boiled egg can also be offered. I find that our Crimson Rosellas tend to appreciate fresh foods while the Golden Mantles will take bits and pieces leaving leftovers.

Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
  • Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
  • Soaked and germinated “oil” seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while “starch” seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
  • It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.

They also enjoy fresh fruits and veggies such as apples, blackberries, oranges, cucumbers, sweet potato and mango. Kale, boiled egg can also be offered.


Reproduction in their natural habitat

In their natural habitat, the breeding season is influenced by rainfall as well as the location of their home range.

Northern birds usually breed between September – January, while those found in the southern areas, mostly breed between February to June.

In the northern parts of the United States, they mostly breed from April through September; in the southern USA, they may breed throughout the year.

The courting male will bow forward low on the perch while sounding out the mating calls. The interested female will do the same. This is usually followed by mutual feeding and then the actual act of mating.

Wild Rosellas usually nest near water, in the cavities of either dead or living trees, usually in eucalypts, or hollow stumps and posts. The nesting cavity is usually over 3 feet (1 m) deep and located up to 100 ft (30 m) above the ground.

The nest floor is usually covered with wood dust. The female alone incubates the eggs while the male feeds her and helps providing food for the young. In the wild, they usually produce 1 – 2 broods a season.

Breeding Rosellas in Captivity / Aviculture

Calls / Vocalizations

Rosellas are often noisy, except when feeding, which is typically done in silence. When roosting in groups, soft chattering or high pitched rapid ‘pi-pi-pi-pi-pi’ contact calls can be heard. Their alarm calls are shrill and screechy. In flight, they make ‘kwik, kwik’ vocalizations.

Rosellas are not known for much talking ability but they can mimic whistles and songs. Though they do not have a true song they do have several melodious calls. Similar to a louder Red Rump, it is much more pleasant than the shrill and harsh sounds of Conures, Cockatoos or Macaws.

Training and Behavioral Guidance:

  • Rosellas are known for their loud, screeching voices (although vocalizing less frequently than some other parrot species) and tendency to be heavy chewers. They may become nippy as well, if not well socialized. They are not amongst the best talkers.
  • Parrots generally present challenges, such as excessive screaming or chewing – especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of “disciplining us” once they are out of the “baby stage” and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established. Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. They regard anything in your home as a “toy” that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable. Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
    • Web Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.

Lifespan / Age of Maturity

Rosellas can be expected to live 15 or more years. Females reach reproductive maturity when they are about 18 months old, while males are able to successfully breed when they are 2 – 3 years old.

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ????? … Czech: Rosela adelaidská … German: Adelaidesittich … Estonian: leek-rosellapapagoi … Finnish: Adelaidenrosella … French: Perruche d’Adélaide, Perruche d’Adélaïde, Perruche d’Adélaide (nominal), Perruche d’Adélaide (nominale), Perruche d’Adélaide (race nominale) … Italian: Rosella di Adelaide … Norwegian: Mønjerosella … Polish: rozella pomaranczowa, Rozella pomara?czowa … Slovak: rozela bušová … Spanish: Rosela de Adelaida


Paler Adelaide Rosellas: Please scroll up for additional information.

Species: Scientific: Platycercus adelaidae subadelaidae … English: Paler Adelaide Rosella … Dutch: Bleke Adelaide Rosella … German: Blasser Adelaidesittich … French: Rosella Adelaide de ple

Description: As adelaidae, but with much less orange-red to breast and abdomen and virtually without orange-red wash to back feathers and upper tail-coverts. Female with same distinguishing features as nominate type. … Length: 35 cm (13.5 ins)

Distribution: Southern Australia from Gladstone north to southern Flinder Ranges; both sub-species are separated by a 60 km (38 miles) zone.

Rosellas InformationIndex of Rosella SpeciesPhotos of the Different Rosella Species for Identification

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