Breeding (in the wild and aviculture)
Few birds in nature are as beautiful and colorful as the Rosellas. They are very popular with aviculturists because of their striking colors and their relative quietness compared to other parrot species.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 referred to it as 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".
A rosella is one of six species of 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 subfamily.
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 25-38 cm (9.8-15 in) and adults are generally very colorful. Immature birds are typically duller, and attain the adult coloration after their second molt - when they are about 12 to 16 months old. At that time they also become sexually mature.
In their natural habitat, they mostly feed on grass and tree seeds (including sprouted seeds that dropped to the floor and were exposed to humidity), as well as a variety of fruits, berries, flowers and nectar.
Additionally, they take insects in their larvae - particularly during the breeding season, when they require more protein in their diet.
They forage in the trees and shrubs, as well as on the ground - usually in shaded areas.
A good Rosella diet should consist of canary seed, a mixture of millets, sunflower and safflower. Most people will use a Cockatiel seed mix with added Canary seed. They also enjoy fresh fruits & veggies such as apples, blackberries, oranges, cucumbers, sweet potato and mango. Kale, boiled egg can also be offered. I find that our Crimson Rosellas tend to appreciate fresh foods while the Golden Mantles will take bits and pieces leaving leftovers.
Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
- Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
- Soaked and germinated "oil" seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while "starch" seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
- It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
They also enjoy fresh fruits & veggies such as apples, blackberries, oranges, cucumbers, sweet potato and mango. Kale, boiled egg can also be offered.
- Please click here for in-depth information on bird nutrition / diet.
Reproduction in their natural habitat
The breeding season usually starts in March or April (in Australia from September through March)
In the northern parts of the United States, they mostly breed from April through September; in the southern USA, they may breed throughout the year.
The courting male will bow forward low on the perch while sounding out the mating calls. The interested female will do the same. This is usually followed by mutual feeding and then the actual act of mating.
Wild Rosellas usually nest near water, in the cavities of either dead or living trees, usually in eucalypts, or hollow stumps and posts. The nesting cavity is usually over 3 feet (1 m) deep and located up to 100 ft (30 m) above the ground.
The nest floor is usually covered with wood dust. The female alone incubates the eggs while the male feeds her and helps providing food for the young. In the wild, they usually produce 1 - 2 broods a season.
Rosellas are easy to breed; and they are generally hardy. Provided they have been properly acclimatized they can withstand colder temperatures. Some heat source may need to be provided when weather conditions are extraordinarily cold. A roosting box will also make it easier for them to keep warm. However, they do need a shelter that protects them from the rain and cold winds / drafts.
Aggression is a problem with rosellas - males in particular are very aggressive towards other males exspecialy in the presence of a hen. Young birds should be separated from the parents as soon weaned to prevent parental aggression. It is best to keep pairs separately from other birds.
Rosellas produce 1 to 2 clutches a year. The Yellow Rosella female typically lays 4 to 6 eggs. The round, white, somewhat shiny eggs measure between 0.87 - 1 inches (22 x 26 mm). The female alone incubates the eggs for about 19 - 24 days. During the incubation period she is fed by her mate. The young fledge when they are about 6 weeks old and are independent another 3 - 4 weeks later.
Established pairs can be prolific and may produce two to three clutches per season - especially if their young are pulled for handfeeding and they have plenty of food available. However, typically they raise one to two clutches per year. During the incubation period she is fed by her mate. After hatching chicks will leave the nest at about 6 weeks old.
Some breeders like to pull the chicks for handfeeding when they are about 2 to 3 weeks old. This will allow parents to get started on another clutch.
Handfed Rosellas can still be a bit flighty and care should be taken to ensure the wings stay clipped to avoid injury. The young will need daily attention to remain tame.
These birds love to bathe and should be provided fresh water to do so.
Single pets can be housed in medium-size parrot cages as long as they are allocated time each day out of the cage for exercise and entertainment.
Rosellas do best in an aviary setting or long flight cages as they are avid flyers. It is recommended that couples are kept alone in an aviary, and to even avoid keeping two couples in two adjacent aviaries - as they may be aggressive and get distracted from breeding. If separation is not possible given the space and resources that you have, it is recommended to have the walls double wired with a separation of about 3 inches (75mm) or even place a solid wall between the flights.
You also need to have available aviary space for the young birds as they should be separated as soon as they are fully independent of their parents.
Rosellas like to chew on wood, therefore, metal frames with strong wire / mesh is recommended.
The minimum aviary size should be about:
Width: 40 inches (1 meter) - 47 inches (1.2 meters)
Length: 16 feet (5 meters)
Height: 7 feet (2.1 meters)
The roof should be covered with transparent or opaque corrugated roofing material. For easy maintenance and sanitation, a concrete floor that can be hosed down daily is recommended.
Leafy branches placed in the aviary will entertain the birds thus minimizing boredom. Plus it will give the birds some beak exercise and nutrition when feeding on the leaves (non-toxic branches only). Natural branches can be used for perches. The perches will be chewed by the birds and need to be replaced regularly
A standard rosella nest box size would be 10" x 11" x 24" (~25 x 28 x 60 cm). Rosellas like their nesting place to be high up -- ideal would be 16 - 30 feet (5 to 10 meters) - or as high as the aviary allows. However, the preferences of parent birds can be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which they themselves were hatched. If a standard nesting box is not readily accept, offer a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, placed in various locations within the aviary, to allow them to make their own choice. Once a pair has successfully nested in a nest box, it is best to keep that box for their own exclusive use, and any other "spare" nest boxes can be removed. The nest box needs to be removed and cleaned at the breeding season to avoid contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens .
A climbing structure should be attached inside the box - just below the entrance hole. The entrance hole just be just big enough for them to able to fit through.
The nest log or box should be placed at the rear of the aviary in a sheltered location to protect it from the elements and provide privacy.
- Please click here for in-depth information on breeding.
Rosellas are often noisy, except when feeding, which is typically done in silence. When roosting in groups, soft chattering or high pitched rapid 'pi-pi-pi-pi-pi' contact calls can be heard. Their alarm calls are shrill and screechy. In flight, they make 'kwik, kwik' vocalizations.
Rosellas are not known for much talking ability but they can mimic whistles and songs. Though they do not have a true song they do have several melodious calls. Similar to a louder Red Rump, it is much more pleasant than the shrill & harsh sounds of Conures, Cockatoos or Macaws.
Rosellas can be expected to live 15 or more years. Females reach reproductive maturity when they are about 18 months old, while males are able to successfully breed when they are 2 - 3 years old.
Scientific: Platycercus .... Dutch: Platstaartparkieten ... German: Plattschweifsittiche ... French: Rosellas ....Slovak: rozela
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