Crimson rosella(Platycercus elegans)
Genus – platycercus
- Platycercus elegans elegans – the nominate race of Victoria and eastern New South Wales.
- Platycercus elegans nigrescens, occurring on Queensland's northeastern coast.
- Platycercus elegans melanoptera on Kangaroo Island. The main distinctions between these is size: nigrescens is the smallest of the three and melanoptera is the largest; both are slightly darker than the nominate race.
- The Yellow rosella, which lives along the Murray River and several of its tributaries, was reclassified as a subspecies, Platycercus elegans flaveolus, of the Crimson as the two were found to interbreed where their ranges overlap. The main difference between the two is that the crimson areas replaced with light yellow and the tail more greenish.
- The Adelaide rosella of Adelaide and the surrounding area was also thought to be a separate species, but is presently believed to be a hybrid swarm, having originated through interbreeding of the Crimson and Yellow rosellas. Both of these still interbreed with the Adelaide rosella where its range crosses theirs, and it exhibits variation in its plumage from dark orange-red in the south of its distribution to a pale orange-yellow in the north. Variants that are very close to the yellow race are designated subadelaidae.
One of their biggest points of pride and a major reason behind the popularity of the Crimson rosella is their impressive appearance. Their body is mostly a deep, crimson red. Their chin and tail feathers are a rich and bright purple, which is also seen on the primary flight feathers. The wing and back feathers are mostly black and bordered with red, creating an interesting pattern. Males and females have the same color, and their only difference is size – males can be noticeably larger.
In addition to flashy colors, distinct traits of the Crimson rosella are its stubby beak, a hawk-headed profile, and the long, broad tail. The adults reach an average length of 14 inches (36 centimeters) and can weigh around 6 ounces (170 grams). Remember that a good portion of their size is reserved for the tail.
The Crimson rosella occurs from southeastern South Australia, through Tasmania, Victoria and coastal New South Wales into southeastern Queensland. A disparate population occurs in North Queensland.
Outside of the breeding season, Crimson rosellas tend to congregate in pairs or small groups and feeding parties. The largest groups are usually composed of juveniles, who will gather in flocks of up to 20 individuals. When they forage, they are conspicuous and chatter noisily. Rosellas are monogamous, and during the breeding season, adult birds will not congregate in groups and will only forage with their mate.
According to a new study, Crimson rosellas can identify birds of their own subspecies based on the smell of other birds.
Crimson rosellas forage in trees, bushes, and on the ground for the fruit, seeds, nectar, berries, and nuts of a wide variety of plants, including members of the Myrtaceae, Asteraceae, and Rosaceae families.
Nesting sites are hollows greater than 1 meter (3.3 feet) deep in tree trunks, limbs, and stumps. These may be up to 30 meters (98 feet) above the ground. The nesting site is selected by the female. Once the site is selected, the pair will prepare it by lining it with wood debris made from the hollow itself by gnawing and shredding it with their beaks. They do not bring in material from outside the hollow. Only one pair will nest in a particular tree. A pair will guard their nest by perching near it and chattering at other rosellas that approach. They will also guard a buffer zone of several trees radius around their nest, preventing other pairs from nesting in that area.
The breeding season of the Crimson rosella lasts from September through to February, and varies depending on the rainfall of each year; it starts earlier and lasts longer during wet years. The laying period is on average during mid- to late October. Clutch size ranges from 3–8 eggs, which are laid asynchronously at an average interval of 2.1 days; the eggs are white and slightly shiny and measure 28 x 23 mm. The mean incubation period is 19.7 days, and ranges from 16–28 days. Only the mother incubates the eggs. The eggs hatch around mid-December; on average 3.6 eggs successfully hatch. For the first six days, only the mother feeds the nestlings. After this time, both parents feed them. The young become independent in February, after which they spend a few more weeks with their parents before departing to become part of a flock of juveniles. Juveniles reach maturity (gain adult plumage) at 16 months of age.
These birds are reported to live for more than 25 years if cared-for properly.
Crimson rosellas are not cuddly, human-friendly birds like other parrots. This bird may willingly perch on a shoulder, but it is not likely to tolerate petting. If very tame, a rosella can be around a careful, older child, but this is not generally recommended since even well-trained birds tend to be nippy.
Rosellas are great aviary birds; they can freely exercise in outdoor aviaries. If an aviary is not an option, then provide the largest enclosure possible. At the very minimum, this bird can live in a medium-sized cage that is at least 30 inches square. It can be housed with another rosella in an aviary but tends to get aggressive with other species.
Rosellas can become nippy with their owners if they are not properly socialized. If you want a tame, friendly rosella, you must take the time to handle and play with the bird daily. Otherwise, you may end up with a grumpy bird prone to nipping or biting. Practice bonding techniques, so your rosella becomes comfortable with being part of a human family.
This species is relatively sedentary. However, young, untamed birds may benefit from a larger cage that allows them space to fly. Free flight is essential for this bird, it needs at least 2 hours of exercise daily.If caged all day, make sure the bird is given a safe room to fly that is secure. Close all windows, doors and chimneys should be blocked off, heaters and fans turned off, and potentially toxic house plants need to be removed or covered. If trained from a young age, these birds can learn to perch on an arm and return to their cage.
Rosellas are notorious chewers that quickly grow bored with their playthings, so it is vital to keep your bird entertained with plenty of bird-safe and interesting toys. If you don't give them toys, then your belongings may turn up missing. Rosellas are infinitely curious little birds that may steal jewelry, keys, buttons, and other items from their owners.
Most rosella owners provide their birds with a good quality seed or pellet mix formulated for canaries and cockatiels. Then, they supplement that with plenty of fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables. Feed approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of seed or pelleted food and 1/4 to 1/3 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. A raw and varied diet will help ensure that your bird maintains top nutrition. Many rosellas also enjoy bits of a boiled egg with their meals, which helps replace the protein lost by not hunting insects in the wild.