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Adelaide Rosella
Blue cheeked Rosella
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella
Golden mantled Rosella
Green Rosella
Northern Rosella
Pale headed Rosella
Western Rosella
Yellow Rosella

. Rosellas

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All Rosellas are parrots. Only rosellas held by private aviculturists will be listed.  For simplicity no hyphens have been used in the common names.

All rosella eggs are white.  One sixth of the world's species of parrots are Australian.  Rosellas belong to the genus PLATYCERCUS and are often referred to as broad-tailed parrots as the word Platycercus means flat or broad tailed.  Rosellas can be found in all Australian States including Tasmania generally along the coastline.

Rosellas are divided into two groups.  One group has blue cheek patches and the other group has white or pale cheek patches.

Blue cheek group :- Adelaide Rosella,  Crimson Rosella,  Green Rosella or Tasmanian Rosella,  Yellow Rosella.

White or pale cheek group:- Blue cheeked Rosella,  Eastern Rosella,  Golden mantled Rosella,  Northern Rosella,  Pale headed Rosella,  Tasmanian Eastern Rosella,  Western Rosella,  Red backed Western Rosella.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans elegans has 3 sub-species:-  Adelaide Rosella P. e. adelaidae,  Crimson Rosella P. e. nigrescens,  Yellow Rosella P. e. flaveolus.
Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius eximius has 2 sub-species:- Tasmanian Eastern Rosella P. e. diemensis,  Golden mantled Rosella P. e. cecilae.
Blue cheeked Rosella, Platycercus adscitus adscitus has 1 sub-species:- Pale headed Rosella P.a. palliceps.
Western Rosella, Platycercus icterotis icterotis has 1 sub-species:- Red backed Western Rosella P. i. xanthogenys.
Northern Rosella  Platycercus venustus venustus has 1 sub-species:- Northern Rosella P. e. hilli.
Green Rosella or Tasmanian Rosella - Platycercus caledonicus has no sub species.

Sexing a Rosella: To avoid the possibility of two birds not being a "true pair", it is advisable to have new birds surgically or DNA sexed.  It may take a season or two for new birds to settle into their new home so the cost of a veterinarian surgically sexing or DNA testing of each bird can be regarded as an investment rather than an expense.  While the bird is getting surgically sexed, the veterinarian can give the bird a thorough health check and answer any questions you may have.  A vet check up on each new bird does not replace the quarantine routines, or be a substitute for normal quarantine procedures, that must be maintained to minimize the chances of the introduction or spread of disease pathogens and/or parasites to the existing collection of birds.

The adult Western Rosella is dimorphic and therefore easily sexed.  Juvenile Western Rosellas are similar to the adult hen.

Housing Requirements: Rosellas like to chew on timber therefore metal frames with strong wire / mesh is advisable.  Recommended aviary size is about 1000mm - 1200 mm wide, 5000 mm long and 2100 mm high. (3' - 4' X 16' x 7' high).  Rosellas do well with the aviary roof being fully covered with transparent or opaque corrugated roofing material.  A concrete floor is recommended. As Rosellas love to bathe, make sure wet spots are allowed to dry and the floor is kept clean.

Rosellas can be housed in an aviary that meets the requirements of most of the other Australian parrots.  Further details are available on the web page "Housing birds".

A typical parrot aviary will suffice.  A sheltered/roofed area at the rear of the aviary for the nest log or box.  The rest of the fully roofed flight to place the foods, water and aviary furniture (perches etc.).  A minimum aviary length of 3000mm (10 feet) is desirable. 

Rosellas can be considered as aggressive birds and it is best if they are not housed with other birds.  It is also advisable to only keep one pair of Rosellas per aviary.  If one is lucky enough to keep more than one pair of Rosellas, it is advisable to keep the pairs separated by at least one aviary flight.  If rosellas are housed in adjoining aviaries, they will probably be aggressive towards each other and get distracted from the prime purpose of breeding.  If it is unavoidable and pairs are housed in adjoining aviaries it will be necessary to have the walls double wired with a separation of about 75mm (3 inches).  Double wiring of the walls minimizes the chances of birds biting the feet of birds in the adjoining aviary.  If a pair is distracted by another pair next door and does not settle down in a reasonable time, the more aggressive pair may have to be placed in an aviary with a solid wall between its neighbours.

Don't forget to plan for additional aviary space for the young birds if you expect the birds to breed.  Young rosellas should be removed from their parents when they are fully independent of their parents.  This will minimize the risk of aggression from the parent birds.

Diet / Feeding: Refer to " Feeding Birds " web page for more details on the feeding of Australian Parrots and Rosellas.

In the wild Rosellas will consume a range of foods found at various levels within their habitat.  They will feed at ground level on seeds of grasses and herbs.  In trees, especially the eucalypts, and shrubs they will eat fruits, berries, leaf and flower buds, nectars and chew on fresh branches.  Insects and the insect larvae will be consumed and this food source provides a good source of easily digested protein, especially around breeding season.  Berries from some exotic plants such as the hawthorn are a favourite food of many parrots including the Rosellas.  Many species of parrots and rosellas have adapted well to the introduced farmlands, parks, gardens and urban areas within their natural range and will forage there for foods including seeds, grains, berries and fruits.

Many species of wild Rosellas will accept seeds and fruits from food trays and bowls left out for wild birds by suburban households.

A basic Rosella seed mix for aviary birds may consist of plain Canary seed, grey striped Sunflower, mix of Millets, and hulled Oats.  In addition to a basic seed mix, a wide range of seeds of grasses shrubs and trees, heads of seeding grasses, nuts, berries, wide range of fruits and vegetables, insect larvae can be offered to the birds.  Corn-on-the-cob can provide them with a valuable food and a lot of fun and activity.  Commercial pellet feeds are becoming available and may be of value as a portion of the diet. They like to have the food utensils elevated about 1 metre above ground.  Most rosellas love to chew on fresh branches and leaves.  At breeding time birds can be fed hygienically prepared good quality soaked or sprouted seed.  The sprouted seed to include a variety of oilseeds as normally fed in the dry seed mix.  Wild rosellas often obtain food from suburban gardens and parks.  Rosellas spend much of their time on the ground feeding.

If the keeper wants to monitor or restrict the amount of oilseeds such as Sunflower or safflower, these seeds can be placed in a separate bowl.  If the birds have a preference to eat only the oilseeds, these seeds can be withheld until the required amounts of the other foors have been consumed to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Rosellas will eat insects such as mealworms.  Insects can provide breeding birds with valuable easily digested proteins.

Seed capsules and flowers from native trees such as eucalypts can provide these birds with a valuable natural food source and at the same time give the birds an activity and exercise session.  Chewing on seed capsules, branches, leaves and flowers may give captive birds some mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.

Rosellas may benefit from having the food trays/dishes located about one metre above the floor/ground level in an aviary.  Rosellas will bathe in the water bowl.  A separate smaller bowl of water can be placed above the floor level near the food area and hopefully this bowl will only be used for drinking.

Breeding & Nesting: A basic overview only.

Rosellas should be about 18 - 24 months of age before they are allowed to breed.  If the birds, particularly the hens, are allowed to fully mature the breeding life of hens can be safer and longer than those that are allowed to breed at an early age.  Rosellas can lay and successfully raise young up to the age of about 10 years, sometimes longer.

Best breeding results are achieved by pairing up unrelated birds.  Buying two young birds from the same place may give you a brother-sister combination.

To avoid the possibility of producing hybrids, only keep one pair of Rosellas per aviary.  Make sure to only breed true to one species or to a true sub-species.  Keep all species and sub-species pure and avoid breeding from hybrids.  Accidental hybrids can be sold to the pet bird trade and removed from the breeding stock.  If in doubt about the purity of any available breeder birds, get advice from established reputable breeders or from an established Aviculture club/society or from an accredited avian veterinarian.

All Australian parrots will breed in hollow logs.  Therefore all Rosellas can be offered the choice of a hollow log as the preferred  nest choice.  Rosellas generally choose a log or nest that provides a snug fit.  Over sized nests are usually avoided if smaller nests are available.

Dimensions quoted for nests or logs are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences.  Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.  If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use.  Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed.  If the "spare" box/s are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure each log / nest box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

Nesting generally takes place from August to December / January.  The Northern Rosella will generally start breeding earlier than the other species of Rosellas.  Only the hen incubates the eggs.  Rosellas will use natural hollow logs or commercial nest boxes but with a preference for a round nest.  Rosellas prefer logs or nest boxes that are hung high up in the aviary but care must be taken to ensure the nest does not get too hot especially when close to the roof.  Logs of about 600 mm in length and about 170 - 180 mm internal diameter should be ideal.  Entrance hole to be about 65-70mm.  A quantity of suitable nest material has to be placed in the bottom of the nest/log before breeding season starts.  Decomposed saw dust closely resembles the naturally occurring material in hollows in the wild.  A mix of non-toxic sawdust, peat moss or a mix of these materials can be placed in the nest to a depth of about 100mm (4inches) deep.  This material should be compressed with your hand or another implement to form a rough cup shape.  Some birds like to throw out the material you have provided, so check the nest and add some more material as required.  If the material is removed and not replaced, the eggs may roll around on a hard flat surface and result in few or no baby birds hatching.

Standard commercial parrot nest boxes with a base of up to 200 mm (8 inches) and about 600 mm deep will be suitable.  Most nest logs are hung at an angle between 45 degrees to vertical to nearly vertical.  Most commercial nest boxes are hung at vertical or near vertical.

The entrance hole of the log or nest should be higher than the near by perch or perches.  The hen seems to feel safer in the nest if the entrance hole to her nest is higher than the nearby roosting or perching facilities.  The nest should not placed at a height that makes it difficult or unsafe to carry out a nest inspection.

Nest access must be easy for the keeper and keep the stress levels of the birds to a minimum especially if the keeper has to place a ring on a leg of each youngster.

Nest inspections are tolerated by most breeding pairs.  Most parrots that allow the keeper to inspect the nest and allow the young to be leg rung, prefer the keeper to follow an established routine.  Talk with other successful rosella breeders in your area to find out the methods they use and adapt their routines or methods to your birds.  Birds generally behave better at breeding time if they have a predictable keeper.

Nest boxes that are able to be inspected safely from outside the aviary can be an advantage in cases where the breeding birds are aggressive to the keeper.

Rosellas are generally good breeders and can lay a clutch of up to 8 eggs.  A typical clutch is 4 to 6 eggs and take about 20 days to hatch.  The young leave the nest at about 5 weeks of age.  Independence from the parent birds can be about 2 weeks but care must be taken as some young birds may take much longer.  If a young bird is removed too early it may fail to thrive or die.  If the young are removed from the parent birds after the young are fully independent, a second clutch is often successful.

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General Book References: Refer to references listed on " Book References " web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 60 No. 8 Aug 2006 Page 157-159 (Life with birds - J. McGrath).

  • A/A Vol 60 No. 5 May 2006 Page 98-100 (Birding in the Kimberleys - 2005).

  • A/A Vol 60 No. 4 Apr 2006 Page 69-71 (Advantages & disadvantages of Bird keeping in hot climates)
  • A/A Vol 59 No. 11 Nov 2005 Page 252-253 (Use of crop needles)
  • A/A Vol 59 No. 10 Oct 2005 Page 233-235 (The case for feeding Green foods - by Dr D. Madill).
  • A/A Vol 58 No. 9 Sept 2004 Page 210-211 (Book review-Atlas of Aust. birds).
  • A/A Vol 53 No. 5 May 1999 Page 114-118
  • A/A Vol 52 No. 2 Feb 1998 Page 42-43 (DNRE returns 96/97)
  • A/A Vol 51 No. 11 Nov 1997 Page 243-250 (S. Gelis - Nutrition)
  • A/A Vol 51 No. 5 May 1997 Page 101-107 (Victorian population trends 1993-96))
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 10 Oct 1996 Page 236-241 (A guide to the status of Aust. parrots & cockatoos in Victorian aviaries)
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 9 Sept 1996 Page 216-217 (Nest inspections)
  • A/A Vol 49 No. 7 July 1995 Page 153-160 (Planting aviaries for parrots & cockatoos)
  • A/A Vol 48 No. 4 Apr 1994 Page 83-88 (Studbooks)
  • A/A Vol 46 No. 8 Aug 1992 Page 181-187 (Bird feeding survey)
  • A/A Vol 39 No. 12 Dec 1985 Page 292-297 (Inc photo))
  • A/A Vol 30 No. 8 Aug 1976 Page 122-123
  • A/A Vol 22 No 10 Oct 1968 Page 157-159.
  • A/A Vol   8 No 12 Dec 1954 Page 140-142.
  • A/A Vol   6 No 3 Mar 1952 Page 34-35.
  • A/A Vol   2 No 3 Mar 1948 Page 24-25 (Birds of yesteryear,  Still valid in 2005).
  • A/A Vol   1  No 5 May 1947.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 741-745 (The social lives of wild parrots)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 733-737 (Enrichment for juvenile parrots)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 2005 Page 665-668 (Beaks for every purpose - R. Low)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 2005 Page 608-611 (Cracking the chemical code behind the red colours of parrots).
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 4. Aug-Sept 2002 Page 197-201
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 4. Aug-Sept 2002 Page 220-222
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 3. Jun-Jul 2002 Page 146-147
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 2. Apr-May 2002 Page 84-86
  • ABK Vol  9 Issue 2. Apr-May 1996 Page 62-65 (Handraising)
  • ABK Vol  9 Issue 2. Apr-May 1996 Page 69-71 (Mutations, R. Low)
  • ABK Vol  9 Issue 2. Apr-May 1996 Page 86-87 (Nutrition)
  • ABK Vol  6 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1993 Page 530-532 (Native Foods)
  • ABK Vol  6 Issue 8. Apr-May 1993 Page 373-377 (Plantscaping)
  • ABK Vol  5 Issue 6. Dec-Jan 1993 Page 290-296 (As pets)
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 12. 1990 Page 478-483 (Suspended Cages)
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 11. 1989 Page 445-448 (Suspended cages)
  • ABK Vol  1 Issue 4. 1988 Page 120-121 (Parrot Nutrition)
  • ABK Vol  1 Issue 1. 1987 Page 7-10

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