Rosellas – Backyard Buddies

Rosellas – Backyard Buddies

What do Rosellas look like?

Australia is home to many species of vibrantly coloured rosella, including Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans), Eastern Rosellas (Platycercus eximius), Western Rosellas (Platycercus icterotis), Northern Rosellas (Platycercus venustus), Pale-headed Rosellas (Platycercus adscitus) and Green Rosellas (Platycercus caledonicus). So, there is probably one living near you!

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There are generally three types of cheek colouring: white, yellow and blue. The Northern, Pale-headed and Eastern Rosellas have white cheeks, the Western Rosellas have yellow cheeks, and the Green and Crimson have blue cheek patches.

Where are Rosellas found?

The Crimson Rosella and Eastern Rosella are found from south eastern Queensland through to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. The Crimson Rosella is probably the most easily recognised rosella, with its red, blue and black colouring. It makes a ‘cussik-cussik‘ call. The Crimson Rosella is also known as the Yellow Rosella around the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions of Australia and around Adelaide it is just called the Adelaide Rosella!

The Green Rosella is only found in Tasmania. It has a dark mottled colours on its upper body with a striking yellow head and belly that is very obvious when it is flying.

The Western Rosella is the smallest rosella. It is often found in pairs and lives only in the south western areas of Western Australia.

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The Northern Rosella lives in the very northern parts of the Kimberleys and of the Northern Territory. Another northern loving rosella is the Pale-headed Rosella which is  found on the east coast of Queensland and northern NSW through to the tip of Cape York.

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Fast facts:

  1. The Arnott’s Rosella sits on a T-shaped perch and has been seen on thousands of tins and wrappers in it’s over one hundred year history. It is a depiction of the phrase, ‘Polly wants a cracker’ and may not be a rosella at all! It is said to be based on a Mexican parrot.
  2. A few species of Rosella share some overlapping territories. A good way to tell the difference is to start with their cheek patches.

Rosellas – the full story

Australia is home to many species of vibrantly coloured rosella, including Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Western Rosellas, Northern Rosellas, Pale-headed Rosellas and Green Rosellas. So there is probably one living near you!

A few species of Rosella share some overlapping territories, so how can you tell what rosella you’re looking at? A good place to start is their cheek patches. There are generally three types of cheek colouring: white, yellow and blue. The Northern, Pale-headed and Eastern Rosellas have white cheeks, the Western Rosellas have yellow cheeks, and the Green, Crimson, Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas have blue cheek patches.

The Crimson Rosella and Eastern Rosella are found from south eastern Queensland through to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. The Crimson Rosella is probably the most easily recognised rosella, with its red, blue and black colouring. It makes a ‘cussik-cussik‘ call. The Crimson Rosella is also known as the Yellow Rosella around the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions of Australia and around Adelaide it is just called the Adelaide Rosella!

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The Green Rosella is only found in Tasmania. It has a dark mottled colours on its upper body with a striking yellow head and belly that is very obvious when it is flying.

The Western Rosella is the smallest rosella. It is often found in pairs and lives only in the south western areas of Western Australia.

The Northern Rosella lives in the very northern parts of the Kimberleys and of the Northern Territory. Another northern loving rosella is the Pale-headed Rosella which is  found on the east coast of Queensland and northern NSW through to the tip of Cape York.

Rosellas often perch on rooftops, in trees and on fences. You will know they are there by their distinctive calls and colourful feathers.

These birds are not afraid of people and are a common sight in Australian suburbs and popular visitors to picnics.

Rosellas are seen frequently in backyards foraging in the leaf litter for insects or drinking the nectar out of native flowers. Rosellas eat seeds, fruits, nuts, flowers, buds, shoots, nectar, insects and insect larvae.

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Rosellas are great to have around the backyard, as they will eat bugs and help pollinate the flowers they drink nectar from. Rosella groups often gather in trees and shrubs to feed or rest during the day. So if you are lucky enough you might spot a family.

Rosellas love:

  • Drinking nectar out of native flowers.
  • Foraging on the ground in search of grubs and other insects.
  • Cooling off in a creek or bird bath on a hot summer’s day.
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But they don’t like:

  • Predators such as larger birds.
  • Shrubs that have been sprayed with pesticides.
  • Rubbish that has been left lying around. Rosellas can be curious birds around picnics and may chew on something that can harm them.

Be a Buddy to Rosellas

Try to:

  • Plant plenty of native flowering plants that rosellas can feed on. Rosellas love wattles, eucalypts, callistemons, banksias, grevilleas, melaleucas and other local native plants which produce seeds or fruits. Pultenea and other pea flowers produce seeds which rosellas like to eat.
  • If you don’t have any large trees in your backyard create a nesting box to provide shelter for rosellas.

Avoid:

  • Leaving rubbish behind at picnics, rosellas might mistake your rubbish for a tasty piece of fruit.
  • Removing large old trees: rosellas often make nests within tree hollows.
  • Using pesticides on shrubs that rosellas feed on.

Don’t be surprised if Rosellas:

  • Bob their heads and fan their tails. This is a courtship display used to impress and find a mate.
  • Are seen in flocks of around 30 birds.
  • Rip bark off trees in search of grubs and other insects that may be hiding underneath.

A few more Rosella facts

  • The Arnott’s Rosella sits on a T-shaped perch and has been seen on thousands of tins and wrappers in it’s over one hundred year history. It is a depiction of the phrase, ‘Polly wants a cracker’ and is said to be based on a Mexican parrot.
  • Rosellas nest in tree hollows lined with wood shavings and soft leaves, and appropriate nest boxes if they can find them.

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