pet bird


Crimson  Rosella
Crimson Rosella

Rosella information

Rosellas are colourful parrot species belonging to the genus Platycercus. All Rosella species are native to mainland Australia or a few nearby islands and inhabit forests and farmlands. They have also managed to adapt well to life near humans and are today found in many parks and gardens. Rosella parrots only live in coastal mountains and plains and are not present in Australia’s outback region.

The genus name Platycercus means "broad-" or "flat-tailed", reflecting the broad tail seen on Rosellas and other members of the broad-tailed parrot tribe.

Rosellas grow to a size of roughly 25-30 cm and the most colorful species have become appreciated pets.  

Rosella taxonomy

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Aves
Order:           Psittaciformes
Family:          Psittacidae
Subfamily:    Psittacinae
Tribe:             Platycercini
Genus:           Platycercus


  • Platycercus adscitus
  • Platycercus caledonicus
  • Platycercus elegans
    • Platycercus elegans elegans
    • Platycercus elegans adelaidae
    • Platycercus elegans  flaveolus
  • Platycercus eximius
  • Platycercus icterotis
  • Platycercus venustus

Rosella species are traditionally divided into two main groups: blue cheeks and white cheeks. Platycercus caledonicusand Platycercus elegansare blue cheeked rosellas, while all the other recognized species are white cheeked rosellas. 

Rosella care

Since there are many different species of Rosella, you have to research your particular species to find out how to provide it with proper care.

The Eastern Rosella, one of the species sometimes kept as a pet, is not a very cuddly bird compared to many other parrots and quite a few individuals, even hand-raised captive bred Eastern Rosellas, never develop a taste for petting and cuddling with their human keeper. It is quite common to keep Eastern Rosellas in large aviaries where they can fly freely rather than in cages where a human has to lift them in and out each day to give them opportunity to fly and exercise. This doesn’t mean that the rosella shuns human company; it is actually quite a social bird that can succumb to depression if not given enough opportunity for social interaction with humans or fellow rosellas. It likes to hang around humans and chat with them and can be trained to whistle songs and jingles. Some individuals also learn to speak human words, but the aptitude for mimicking human speech varies from specimen to specimen. The Eastern Rosella is a curious and clever bird that needs a lot of mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.  

As mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you research your particular species of rosella before you bring it home. By learning about the wild habits of a species you can find out a lot about its preferences in captivity as well. The Crimson Rosella is for instance known to live in pairs or small groups and feeding parties outside the breeding season and will therefore appreciate company in captivity as well. Juveniles form their own flocks, sometimes consisting of up to 20 individuals. During the breeding season, sexually mature birds pair up and go to live with their mate only; they don’t even forage with other birds. This behavior is naturally important to understand if you plan to breed Crimson Rosellas.  

Feeding Rosella

Wild Rosellas feed mainly on seeds and fruit and pet Rosellas should be given a similar diet. You can for instance combine parrot seed mix with fresh fruit, vegetables and leaves. Always research your particular Rosella species to find out more about its exact feeding requirements. The Crimson Rosella is for instance known to supplement its vegetarian diet with protein rich insects, such as termites, beetles and water boatmen in the wild.

Breeding Rosella

The exact breeding habit varies from species to species.

The Crimson Rosella breeds from September through to February with the exact timing depending on the rainfall. During years with a lot of precipitation, the breeding will start earlier and last longer. The laying period is (on average) during mid- to late October. 

The Crimson Rosella chooses hollows larger than 100 cm in diameter in tree trunks, limbs or stumps as nesting sites and the hollow is always selected by the female. Crimson Rosella nests have been found at heights of up to 30 metres and you can never see more than one nest per tree. If other Rosellas approach an occupied tree, the resident couple will chatter and keep them away. The couple also prevents other Rosellas from nesting in nearby trees.

A Crimson Rosella couple will prepare the nest together by lining the hollow with wood debris formed by gnawing and shredding the hollow. They rely solely on what they can make themselves using their own strong beaks and do not fetch any lining material from outside the hollow.

A typical Crimson Rosella clutch will contain 3-8 eggs which are not laid all at once. The eggs are white and somewhat shiny and will hatch after two to four weeks, which normally put the hatching around mid December. On average, only 4 out of 10 Crimson Rosella hatchlings are male.

Only the female Crimson Rosella incubates the eggs and she will also feed the hatchlings during the first week. After that, both parents will feed their offspring. By February the chicks are normally independent but will stay with their parents for a few more weeks before leaving to join a flock of juvenile birds.

Juvenile Crimson Rosellas do not develop their adult plumage until they are 16 months old.

Rosella health

Visible signs of illness in Rosellas:

  • feather plucking
  • plumage looks messy and unkempt
  • plumage looses its former lustre
  • bare spots visible in the plumage
  • the Rosella seems lethargic and listless
  • the Rosella sleeps more than normally
  • loss of appetite
  • changed faeces
  • the bird sneezes more than just once in a while
  • you can see a discharge oozing from the nostrils
  • slit eyes instead of round eyes
  • unusual screaming 

Rosella Facts

Rosella facts # 1
Several different imaginative stories circulate regarding how the Rosella parrots got their name. According to one of them, they are named after Rosetta, the wife of George Fife Angas, an Australian settler. Angas forgot to cross the t’s which made them look like lower case l’s, hence the name Rosella. According to another story, the name Rosella is a corruption of the name Rosehill. If this story is to be believed, European settlers first encountered Rosellas at Rose Hill (which is now as Sidney suburb). They called the bird Rosehill Parakeet, which over time became Rosehiller and then finally Rosella.

Rosella facts # 2
Introduced populations of Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) have established breeding populations in New Zeeland, chiefly in the northern half of the North Island and in Hutt Valley, and in the hills around Dunedin on South Island. This species is also found on Norfolk Island. The original range for the Eastern Rosella is southeastern Australia and Tasmania.  

Rosella fact # 3
The smallest species of Rosella is Platycercus icterotis, commonly known as Western Rosella, Stanley Rosella, Stanley’s Rosella, Earl of Derby's parakeet, or Yellow-cheeked parakeet. It stays well under 30 cm in length and is found in the Eucalypt forests and timbered areas of South West of Australia. The females are even smaller than the males.

Rosella fact # 4
The Northern Rosella, Platycercus venustus, is unusually colored for a Rosella. Forehead, crown and nape are black in color with white-on-blue cheek-patches, while chest, belly and rump are of a pale yellow shade with black borders that give them a scalloped look. In a similar fashion, both back and wing feathers are blackish with yellow borders. The tail is long and sports a bluish green colour. The eyes have dark irises and the bill is pale grey. The Northern Rosella is known under several common names, including Smutty Rosella and Brown's Parakeet. It is only found in Australia's Top End.

Rosella fact # 5
The most common cause for a Crimson Rosella egg failing to hatch is actually that it has been destroyed by a female member of its own species. During the breeding season, female Crimson Rosellas seek out nests belonging to their own species and demolish the eggs. This behavior is still not fully understood, but it might have to do with the fierce competition for suitable nesting hollows. If all the eggs in a nest are destroyed, the parents will abandon the tree.

Rosella lifespan

Rosellas can live for over 20 years.


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