|A rosella is one of 5-8 species of colorful Australian parrots in the genus Platycercus. Platycercus means "broad-" or "flat-tailed", reflecting a feature common to the rosellas and other members of the broad-tailed parrot tribe.|
Roselle's are native to Australia and some nearby islands, where they inhabit forests, woodlands, farmlands, and suburban parks and gardens. They are confined to the coastal mountains and plains and are absent from the outback. Introduced populations have also established themselves in New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
Rosellas range in size from 25-38 cm (9.8-15 in). Their diet consists mainly of seeds and fruit.
Because of their strikingly colorful plumage, several species are widely kept as pets.
Legend has it that early settlers first encountered the Eastern Rosella at Rose Hill, now a Sydney suburb. They called it a "Rose Hiller", which eventually became "rosella".
There is also a second story that the name is derived from 'Rosetta', the first name of the wife of George Fife Angas, a settler in Australia, but he forgot to cross his T's (leaving them appearing as lowercase L's), hence "rosella".
Systematics and taxonomy
The genus Platycercus has a number of lineages, whose interrelationships have been fairly well resolved (e.g. Ovenden et al., 1987). However, the intra-lineage relationships are not clear at all in several cases, with for example the Crimson, Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas having been considered everything between three distinct species and a single clinal population. What is generally accepted is that the Western Rosella is most distantly related to all other forms, and that the blue-cheeked and the white-cheeked taxa form monophyletic lineages.
The arrangement in the taxobox presents the forms as separate species, the version below lumps the disputed forms into P. elegans and P. adscitus.
- Genus Platycercus
- Western Rosella, Platycercus icterotis
- P. i. icterotis
- P. i. xanthogenys
- Platycercus elegans group
- Crimson Rosella, Platycercus elegans elegans (sometimes considered a separate species)
- P. e. melanoptera (probably invalid)
- P. e. nigrescens (possibly a separate species)
- Adelaide Rosella, P. e. adelaidae (sometimes considered a separate species)
- P. e. fleurieuensis (probably invalid)
- P. e. subadelaidae
- Yellow Rosella, P. e. flaveolus (sometimes considered a separate species)
- Green Rosella, Platycercus caledonicus (formerly considered a subspecies of the Yellow Rosella)
- Platycercus adscitus group
- Pale-headed Rosella, P. a. adscitus (sometimes considered a separate species)
- Eastern Rosella, Platycercus a. eximius (sometimes considered a separate species)
- Gold-mantled Rosella , P. a. cecilae
- P. a. diemenensis
- Northern Rosella, Platycercus venustus venustus
- P. v. hilli (probably invalid)
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Psittaciformes
- Family: Psittacidae
- Subfamily: Psittacidae
- Tribe: Platycercini
- Genus: Platycercus Vigors, 1825
- Platycercus icterotis
- Platycercus elegans
- Platycercus adelaidae
- Platycercus flaveolus
- Platycercus caledonicus
- Platycercus adscitus
- Platycercus eximius
- Platycercus venustus
The Western Rosella Platycercus icterotis, less commonly known as the Stanley Rosella, Earl of Derby's parakeet or Yellow-cheeked parakeet, is the smallest species of rosella and is found in the South West of Australia. in Eucalypt forests and timbered areas. Just under 30cm (or 1') long; they are red from the head to the breast with white or beige-ish yellow cheeks and blue and green patterned wings with males being slightly larger and having a more vibrant yellow cheek coloring. Their bills are a grey 'horn' color like most Australian parrots.
Western Rosellas socialize in pairs but will often congregate in largish groups of twenty or so to forage when the season permits; their diet is herbivorous, consisting mostly of grass and seeds. They nest mostly in hollow tree trunks usually a meter or so deep and will favor hollows that have dust in the bottom (as may be created by insects boring out the tree or limb). The female incubates the eggs and leaves in the morning and afternoon to eat food found by the male.
Western Rosellas make reasonable pets however they have a habit of being aggressive if kept with other pets. They are largely sociable with humans and will whistle in return if whistled at.
The Crimson Rosella, Platycercus elegans, is a parrot native to eastern and south eastern Australia which has been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. It is commonly found in, but not restricted to, mountain forests and gardens. The species as it now stands has subsumed two former separate species, The Yellow Rosella and the Adelaide Rosella. Interestingly, molecular studies show one of the three red-colored races, var. nigrescens is genetically more distinct.
Though described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in Systema Naturae as Psittacus elegans in 1788, the Crimson Rosella had been described and named by John Latham in 1781 as the Beautiful Lory, and then Pennantian Parrot. However he didn't give it a Latin name until 1790, when he named it Psittacus pennanti. In 1854, it was placed in the genus Platycercus by Martin Lichtenstein in his Nomenclator Avium Musei Zoologici Berolinensis.
Today, the red-coloured races are generally known as the Crimson Rosella, with the alternate names Red Lowry, Pennant's Parakeet, Campbell Parakeet, (Blue) Mountain Parrot, (Blue) Mountain Lowry or just plain Lowry occasionally heard. Cayley reported that the first two alternate names were most common in the early part of the twentieth century. On Norfolk Island it is called simply Red Parrot.
Platycercus elegans is a medium-sized Australian parrot at 36 cm long, much of which is tail. There are five subspecies, three of which are actually crimson. The red is replaced by yellow in the case of var. flaveolus and a mixture of red, orange and yellow in the Adelaide Rosella.
Adults and juveniles generally show strikingly different coloration in south-eastern populations, with predominantly greenish-olive body plumage on the juvenile, most persistent on the nape and breast. All races have blue cheeks and black-scalloped blue-marginned wings and predominantly blue tail with predominantly red coloration. The bill is pale grey and the iris dark brown.
The Yellow Rosella, which lives along the Murray River, was reclassified (1968) as a subspecies, P. elegans flaveolus, of the Crimson as the two were found to interbreed where their ranges overlap. The main difference between the two is that those parts of the Crimson which are red are on the Yellow bright yellow.
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.
The Green Rosella or Tasmanian Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) is endemic to Tasmania. The largest of the Rosellas it is predominantly green and yellow in plumage with blue cheeks. The species specific epithet was derived from the mistaken belief the bird was collected from New Caledonia
The Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus), also known as the Mealy Rosella, Moreton bay Rosella or Blue Rosella, is a parrot native to eastern Australia.
Pale-headed Rosella has two subspecies, palliceps (eastern Queensland), known as the Blue-cheeked rosella, and adscitus (Cape York Peninsula). The Eastern Rosella is frequently considered conspecific with this species; this would add another 3 subspecies.
Length: 300mm which includes a 150mm tail.
The pale-headed Roselle's body is mostly covered in blue except for the upper breast and head which are cream-yellow, the tail which is blue-black and green and the vent which is blood red.
The Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) is a rosella native to southeast Australia and Tasmania. It has been introduced to New Zealand; feral populations are found in the North Island.
The bird is around 30 cm long, with a red head and upper breast and white cheeks. The rest of the breast is yellow becoming more greenish toward the abdomen. The feathers of the back and shoulders are black with yellowish margins, giving rise to a scalloped appearance. The wings and lateral tail feathers are bluish while the rest of the tail is dark green. The female is similar to the male though duller in coloration.
The Eastern Rosella is found in lightly wooded country. It eats grass seeds and fruits. Breeding occurs in spring and early summer and up to seven eggs are laid in tree hollows.
The Eastern Rosella was named by George Shaw in 1792. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the Pale-headed Rosella (P. adscitus). Three subspecies of Eastern Rosella are recognised: diemenensis (eastern Tasmania), eximius (Victoria and southern New South Wales), and cecilae (northern New South Wales).
The Northern Rosella (Platycercus venustus), also known as Brown's Parakeet or Smutty Rosella, is found in Australia's Top End. It is unusually colored for a rosella, with a dark crown and white cheeks similar to its relatives the Pale-headed Rosella and the Eastern Rosella.
At 28 cm long it is smaller than all bar the Western Rosella. The forehead, crown and nape are black in color with white-on-blue cheek-patches. The back and wing feathers are blackish with yellow borders, while the feathers of the belly, chest and rump are pale yellow with black borders giving rise to a scalloped appearance. The long tail is bluish green. The bill is pale grey and the iris dark. Immature plumage is similar to adult but duller.
The Northern Rosella is found from the Gulf of Carpentaria, through Arnhem Land to the Kimberleys in open savannah country.
It is not a gregarious bird, found solitarily or in pairs. Nesting occurs in tree hollows in winter, with two to four eggs laid.
In captivity, they are said to continue with their early mating habit, which is not a problem in Australia but more so in other countries.