Australian Bush Birds
Crimson Rosella  -  Platycercus elegans elegans
Crimson Rosella
Adult Crimson Rosella at Omeo, Victoria.
Crimson Rosella
Crimson Rosella feeding on seed in tree.
map map The Crimson Rosella - Platycercus elegans elegans - has blue cheek patch, shoulders and tail. Crimson body and head, white beak. Back is crimson with black scalloping. Females similar to males with white underwing bar. Juveniles/immature have blue cheek patches with olive green back and green tail; under side is green with crimson scalloping and crimson breast. In some places juvenile Crimson Rosellas are known locally as Green Rosellas. Grows to 32 to 37 centimetres.

Subspecies elegans is found in south-east Queensland, coastal New South Wales and much of Victoria while subspecies nigrescens lives along the coast of central Queensland.

Crimson Rosellas are mainly seed and fruit eaters. They forage on the ground and in the outer foliage of trees, picking up seed ready to eat or breaking into fruit holding it in the left foot. Early in the morning they fly out to drink and feed in shrubs and trees or on the ground.

Crimson Rosella - page 2
When on the ground in sunlight they keep to shaded patches. Eucalyptus seeds are a diet staple but they take a wide range of grains from weeds, grasses and shrubs. They harvest lerps from leaves and have raided eucalyptus flowers for nectar. Crimson rosellas are often regarded as pests by orchardists and householders.

Lives in humid forests of the east coast and Victoria, in rainforests, tall, dense, wet eucalypt forests, along timbered watercourses and farmland near forests. Flies rapidly twisting and turning between tree trunks and limbs. Abundant in forests and in suburbs of cities

They rest quietly in tree tops during the middle of the day, occasionally nibbling on leaves and socialising in small chattering groups. They feed again in the late afternoon then fly to their roosts.

This is a gregarious bird; adults gather in groups of five or six while immature birds (more green than the red of adults) gather, sometimes with a few adults, into wandering groups of up to 30 birds. Immature bands break up at the beginning of the breeding season as birds adopt adult plumage and pair up. There is no feeding territory.

Adults gather in small social groups in and out of breeding season and engage in chattering and tail displays. Pairing seem to be permanent, even within small social groups of adults. Male and female do not preen each other but the male does feed the female during courtship and while she is incubating and brooding the young.

Crimson Rosella
Young adult, not yet in full adult plumage.
crimson Rosella crimson Rosella
Left: Adult. Right: Juvenile.
Breeding takes place from September to January. One brood is raised each year. The nest is in a hollow in a tall living or dead eucalyptus from 5 to 20 metres above the ground. There does not appear to be breeding territory, possibly other than the immediate vicinity of the nest.

Crimson Rosella - page 3
Four to eight, usually five, eggs are laid; cream-white, rounded, 27-30 by 22-34 millimetres laid on a bed of wood dust. The female incubates the eggs while the male feeds her; usually the female is called out of the nest onto a nearby branch to be fed in the morning and afternoon. The female feeds the young until they are two weeks old, then both parents feed them until two or three weeks after fledging. They leave the nest then but remain at least partly dependant on the parents for another two or three weeks until they leave their parents to join flocks of juveniles.

Two other Platycercus elegans subspecies were previously separate species. The Adelaide Rosella, subspecies adelaide common around Adelaide, shares elegans' blue cheek patches but has more orange and yellow in its colouring than crimson. The Yellow Rosella, subspecies flaveolus, found along the Murray River and in the Murray River Valley, also retains the blue cheeks with a predominantly yellow body and blue wings. Both these subspecies have been confirmed as being biologically identical to the Crimson Rosella except for colour. The interbreed readily.

Crimson Rosella
Juvenile Crimson Rosella, sometimes locally known as the Green Rosella.