Adelaide Rosella



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. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and fruit.


Rosellas 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 25–30 cm (10–12 in). The feathers on their backs show an obvious scalloping appearance with colouring that differs with the species.


A story goes that early European settlers first encountered the Eastern Rosella at Rose Hill, now a Sydney suburb, and so they called it the Rosehill Parakeet, which became, "Rosehiller", which eventually "Rosella". However, 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".


The more colourful Rosella species are popular as pet parrots and also as aviary birds. They can live for longer than 20 years, and they are relatively easy to breed.


Common and binomial names Photograph Description Range
Western Rosella
(Platycercus icterotis)
30cm long, red from the head to the breast with white or beige-yellow cheeks, blue and green patterned wings with males being slightly larger and having a more vibrant yellow cheek colouring. Their bills are a grey Southwest Australia
Crimson Rosella
(Platycercus elegans)
36 cm long, 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. East and Southeast Australia, Tasmania
Green Rosella
(Platycercus caledonicus)
36 cm (14 in) long, yellow head and underparts with blue cheeks and red frontal band above the bill. The feathers of the back and wings are black with green margins, rump olive and the tail green with blue borders. The lateral wing feathers are pale blue. The bill pale tan-grey. Tasmania
Pale-headed Rosella
(Platycercus adscitus)
30 cm long, mostly covered in blue except for the upper breast and head which are cream-yellow, the tail is blue-black and green, and an area around the vent is red. Two subspecies. Eastern Australia
Eastern Rosella
(Platycercus eximius)
30 cm long, red head, red 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. Australia and Tasmania. Introduced to New Zealand where feral populations are found in the North Island
Northern Rosella
(Platycercus venustus)
28 cm long, forehead, crown and nape are black in colour 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, tail is bluish green. The bill is pale grey. The Northern Rosella is found from the Gulf of Carpentaria, through Arnhem Land to the Kimberleys in open savannah country, Australia.


  • Ovenden, J. R.; Mackinlay, A. G. & Crozie, R. H. (1987): Systematics and Mitochondrial Genome Evolution of Australian Rosellas (Aves: Platycercidae). Molecular Biology and Evolution 4(5): 526-543. PDF fulltext

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