Photos of the Different Rosella Species for Identification
- Global Names
- Distribution / Range
- Description … Calls / Vocalizations
- Breeding (in the wild and aviculture)
- Natural Diet / Captive Feeding
- Lifespan / Age of Maturity
Few birds in nature are as beautiful and colorful as the Rosellas. They are very popular with aviculturists because of their striking colors and their relative quietness compared to other parrot species. Several species are widely kept as pets.
Legend has it that early settlers first encountered the Eastern Rosella at Rose Hill, now a Sydney suburb. They referred to it as a “Rose Hiller”, which eventually became “rosella”. There is also a second story that the name is derived from ‘Rosetta’, the first name of the wife of George Fife Angas, a settler in Australia, but he forgot to cross his T’s (leaving them appearing as lowercase L’s), hence “rosella”.
A rosella is one of six species of Australian parrots in the genus Platycercus. Platycercus means “broad-” or “flat-tailed”, reflecting a feature common to the rosellas and other members of the broad-tailed parrot subfamily.
Rosellas are native to Australia and some nearby islands, where they inhabit forests, woodlands, farmlands, and suburban parks and gardens. They are confined to the coastal mountains and plains and are absent from the outback. Introduced populations have also established themselves in New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
Rosellas range in size from 25-38 cm (9.8-15 in) and adults are generally very colorful. Immature birds are typically duller, and 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.
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.
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
The breeding season usually starts in March or April (in Australia from September through March)
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.
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:
Scientific: Platycercus …. Dutch: Platstaartparkieten … German: Plattschweifsittiche … French: Rosellas ….Slovak: rozela
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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