Small pet birds and anything related by Pete Etheridge – aka – 'Stanton Birdman'

Posts tagged ‘rosella’

Pet birds – More information about rosellas

There are several species of rosella, all belong to the genus platycercus which refers to the shape of their tails ie. broad or flat, a common feature in all rosellas.

Medium sized parrots averaging about 12 inch in length, give or take a couple of inches either way depending on the subspecies. All are native to Australia and the nearby islands and have distinct cheek patches and a scalloped appearance to the plumage on their backs.

Absent from the barren outback but quite common in coastal areas where they live in suburban gardens and parks, woodlands and forests, and farmland.

Most live together in flocks or small groups out of the breeding season which is when they then pair up and go their own way. Their natural diet consists mainly of seed and fruit.

Their bright colours make them popular pet birds and in captivity can live for over 20 years, please note however that they are usually very aggresive towards other captive birds with which they have to share their home. For this reason it is advisable to keep them in pairs or alone although I have kept golden mantle rosellas in a large aviary with budgies, cockatiels, and kakarikis with no problem. If doing this though you must be sure to have a large aviary so the birds can get away from each other if they need to.

WARNING: don’t ever keep different subspecies of rosella in the same aviary or cage, they will fight to the death so be sure to prevent them from getting at each other if keeping more than one subspecies. The same applies if trying to keep more than two rosellas of the same subspecies together also.

Green Rosella  Platycercus caledonicus

Sometimes called Tasmanian rosella, the green rosella is not actually native to Australia but to Tasmania and Bass Strait islands. This is the biggest of the rosella family averaging about 14.5 inch (37 cm) in length, and is often regarded as the easiest rosella species to keep in captivity.

The green rosella showcase: Avian Web, Wikipedia, and not just one video but another one also.

Eastern Rosella  Platycercus eximius

This subspecies is predominant mainly in the south east of the country but also Tasmania and has three recognised subspecies itself. Mainly occupying light woodland areas, but these birds have also been introduced to New Zealand where feral populations exist in the North Island, Hutt Valley and Dunedin in the south island. The eastern rosella is about 12 inch (30 cm) in length and is a very popular pet where the bright and colourful plumage is a big attraction.

Of course we like Wikipedia and Avian Web so much because we get more information from there, and we also like to watch a movie.

Crimson Rosella  Platycercus elegans

Also called Pennant’s rosella and Occupying mainly forests and gardens in east and south east Australia but also introduced to New Zealand. The crimson rosella has five subspecies, of which three are actually crimson in colour. In the wild they will gather in small groups, pairs of feeding parties outside the breeding season. Found mainly in coastal and mountain forests and woodlands. Popular pet birds that are about 14 inch (36 cm) in length.

Find the crimson rosella on Avian Web and Wikipedia.

As popular as the green so it features in two movies:  here’s one, here’s the other.

Pale-headed Rosella  Platycercus adscitus

Often known as Mealy rosella this species inhabits open woodland areas and is native to north east Australia. The pale-headed has two subspecies and is very closely related to the Eastern rosella. The length is approximately 33 cm (13 inch) long but almost half, about 15 cm (6 inch) of that is the tail.  The pale -headed rosella is also sought after by bird keepers and does make a hardy pet which is easy to keep.

Pale-headed rosella on Wikipedia and Avian Web, and starring in its own show here.

Western Rosella  Platycercus icterotis

Sometimes known as the Stanley rosella this little parrot is native to timbered areas and eucalyptus forests in south west Australia. Usually found in pairs but will form groups of about twenty or so to forage. The western is the smallest rosella averaging about 10 inch (25.5 cm) with two subspecies. As with many rosellas these are often kept as pets or aviary birds where, as is usual with rosellas, their bright colouring is desired.

Read about the Western rosella at Avian Web or Wikipedia.

Watch a short movie featuring Western rosellas in the lead role.

Northern Rosella  Platycercus venustus

Also called Smutty rosella or Brown’s parakeet and is native in the north of Australia as it’s name implies, ranging from the Kimberleys and through Arnhem land to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The northern rosella is the second smallest of the common breeds at about 28 cm (11 inch) long. They live singurlarly or in pairs throughout the open savannah country.

Northern rosella on Wikipedia and Avian Web

Video link for Northern rosella

View lots of rosella pictures on the ‘Stanton Birdman’ ‘Facebook’ page

All the above are available to the bird keeper but the desire for birds with colourful plumage has outstripped demand in many areas so a premium price often accompanies the purchase of a rosella. Don’t expect to pay less than £80 for one unless you’re lucky!


Native Australian birds as pets – An introduction to rosellas

Of all native Australian birds used as pets the rosellas are amongst the most sought after. This is due to their wonderful variety of colouring, their size and their unique markings. Their scalloped feather markings on the back is what makes them unique in the avian world. There are several different species of rosella, all of them unique in their own way, and they all have similar requirements when used in aviculture.

Common in all rosellas is the scalloped pattern to the feathers on the back and all have distinctive cheek patches. A very colourful and medium sized parrot native to Australia and the surrounding islands. On the Australian mainland these colourful birds tend to inhabit areas of farmland, woodland, forests and suburban gardens and parks, in the coastal mountains and plains but not the outback. Specific breeds tend to inhabit a particular area. Most species of rosella live in large flocks in the wild but not all.It is commonly held that their name originates from the area of Australia in which they were first noticed by early pioneers, the Rose Hill area of Sydney.

The most common species appear to be: Western Rosella – smallest of the species with two subspecies itself and is found in south west Australia. Crimson Rosella – five subspecies and inhabiting east and south east Australia. Green Rosella – the largest species and native to Tasmania. Pale-headed Rosella – two subspecies and found in the eastern part of Australia. Eastern Rosella – three subspecies and although native to the eastern area of the country they are found in many regions including Tasmania and have been introduced to New Zealand where feral populations can be found. Northern Rosella – mainly found in the north as the name suggests but can also be seen in open savanna country and a few other areas, this one is also more likely to be found in small groups or just in pairs in the wild. All these are popular as pets.

An aviary is the best option when keeping rosellas in captivity as this ensures an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible. If an aviary is not an option then they will do OK in cages, as long as the cage is adequately large enough for their requirements. They will need to have regular exercise outside the cage however and should get the opportunity to have a fly around. These birds are not usually talkers and will mainly chirp & squawk, although they could learn a few unique sounds or the odd whistle. A single rosella will form a very strong bond with its owner.

An important warning with regards to keeping rosellas:

They are best kept alone or in pairs as they can be very aggressive towards each other if a lot are enclosed together, a strange thing about captive ones this is as they tend to live mainly in flocks in the wild. Whether kept in aviary or cage try to only have no more than two, and ensure they are of the same species subfamily. These birds will fight to the death in captivity if different sub-species are allowed access to each other, so make certain that if keeping more than one type of rosella to separate the different sub-species by housing in separate aviaries or cages. If the aviaries are connected together you must at the very least double-mesh so as these birds cannot get any physical contact. Beautiful birds yes, they do have these requirements however, but they are easily achievable.

Most bird keepers will suggest that rosellas are not to be kept in a mixed aviary with other types of birds because of their aggressive nature. This may be so but I have in the past kept a pair of Eastern Rosellas (golden-mantled rosellas) in the same mixed aviary with budgies, cockatiels, grass parakeets and kakarikis and have had no problems, the rosellas tended to keep themselves to themselves and do their own thing. It would be best to get advice from an avian professional if unsure.

To summarise there are several types of rosella available to the bird keeper, but their demand can often lead to having to pay a substantial fee in order to purchase any. Their physical appearance however is well worth the expense.

All the information you need for looking after your pet birds is in my ebook, go to for your copy.

Pet birds – The popularity of native Australian birds in aviculture

Zebra finches

Lots of popular pet bird species originate from Australia, most of the well-known pet birds are native to this country but not all of them. Many are from the Americas, Africa, and Asia, but the most popular by far and through the sheer numbers in captivity are the Australian species, which range from small finches, right through the range to large parrots.

Famous breeds like the budgerigar (know as parakeet in some countries), cockatiel, zebra finch, lorikeet, and the cockatoo all became available throughout the world via importation from Australia.

When our ancestors first discovered the Australian continent they found many types of animals that were unique to this part of the globe, such as the now infamous ‘duck-billed platypus’ and the ‘echidna‘(egg laying mammals! How strange must that have been?); marsupials such as the ‘kangaroo’, ‘wallaby’, ‘koala’ and many new and unique bird species; many of which were very brightly coloured. So they desired specimens of these birds to take home, and in doing so boosted the fondness of exotic pet bird keeping.

Starting with the smaller breeds; Australian finches that are popular as pets include the ‘star finch’, ‘gouldian finch’ and the well known and readily available at a low price ‘zebra finch’. However there are many more.

Small to medium sized parrot-like species from Australia include the most popular small pet bird of all, the ‘budgerigar’ (or ‘parakeet’). The almost as popular ‘cockatiel’ is also an Australian native, plus no end of other well known pet birds. The list is almost endless: ‘lories’ and ‘lorikeets’ (several types of these), parakeets such as ‘turquoisine’, ‘bourke’, ‘splendid’ ‘elegant’ and ‘red-rumped’ to name a few, there’s loads more. The medium sized ‘eclectus parrot’ also hails from this part of the world.

The ‘rosellas’ are also medium parrot from Australia and about 6 different varieties are used as pets; ‘Eastern’, ‘Northern’, ‘Western’, ‘crimson’, ‘green’, and ‘pale-headed’. All are unique and different in their own way but are closely related. Rosella are known for their strikingly rich colouring, making them a very desirable pet.

Finally the big daddy of Australian pet birds, the ‘cockatoo’. There are about 20 different species of cockatoo but not all are popular as pets, and believe it or not the famous ‘cockatiel’ mentioned earlier is a member of this bird family but of course nowhere near as large as some of its cockatoo cousins. All birds in the cockatoo family are distinguishable by the crest of feathers on the top of the head.

Many breeds of Australian birds live in massive flocks in the wild. The sight of hundreds of budgerigars, cockatiels, finches or lorikeets flocking together is an awe-inspiring sight, and very noisy.

To summarise there is a massive range of Australian birds available as pets all over the world. Many are very colourful, easy to keep, very hardy and all have unique and sometimes entertaining characteristics. The least costly of exotic pet birds are also native Aussies. Is it any wonder that these pet birds are so popular?

For more bird keeping related issues please email me with your questions.

More information can be found in my new pet bird keeping ebook available now, visit to get your copy.

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