Rosella is one of the most beautiful parrots, differing from other birds of this species in an extremely unusual scaly color of feathers. The scientific name of the species is Platycercus eximius, and this bird was first described only in the middle of the 19th century, when the first scientists reached Australia.
Origin of the species and description
Rosella, as a separate species, formed several thousand years ago. Reliable descriptions of the parrot are found in the traditions of the Australian aborigines. Ornithologists say that rosella is as ancient as cockatoo or cockatiel.
This type of parrot is distinguished by its incredibly colorful plumage, beauty and natural grace. Rosella is a medium sized parrot. The body length of the bird is from 25 to 35 centimeters, the weight of the bird does not exceed 50 grams, and the wingspan is about 15 centimeters.
The color of the bird stands out in particular. The upper part of the back is black (sometimes interspersed with white), but each feather on the back ends with a greenish edging. To the very bottom of the back, the feathers form a large greenish area, giving the parrot an elegant look. On the cheeks of the bird there are multi-colored spots, the color of which depends on the subspecies of rosella.
A distinctive feature of the rosella is a wide tail, which is not typical for the parrot family. The tail plumage of the rosella is arranged in such a way that it forms a kind of steps. Thanks to such an unusual tail structure, Rosella can quickly maneuver, which allows the bird to fly even in the densest forest.
Interesting fact: Male and female Rosella differ from each other only in the brightness of the color. Males are much brighter than females, which helps them attract partners during the mating season. In other respects (size, weight, wingspan), females and males of rosella are almost identical.
Appearance and features
Dimensions, scope the wings and color of the rosella depend on the subspecies to which the bird belongs.
At the moment, ornithologists distinguish the following subspecies of parrots:
- variegated (classic) rosella. The most common type of parrot. It is found almost throughout Australia, as well as in the Tasman Islands. The size of the bird is 30-33 centimeters, and a distinctive feature of the species is a very beautiful plumage with a greenish border. As a rule, it is this type of parrot that is most often bred at home, since the subspecies is distinguished by a phlegmatic character and high adaptive abilities;
- red (penant) rosella. The largest bird in the family. The size of an adult individual reaches 36-37 centimeters. The head and chest of the parrot are bright red, the abdomen is green, and the back is black. At the same time, there are pale blue spots on the cheeks of the bird. The red parrot is the most aggressive of the whole species and often conflicts with smaller relatives;
- green rosella. Parrots of this subspecies can also reach a length of 35-36 centimeters, but unlike their red counterparts, they are much more peaceful. The subspecies got its name due to the fact that the plumage on the head, neck and chest of the bird is colored green. The color of the parrot is given by the fact that the feathers on its forehead are red and the neck is dark blue. The bird lives in the rainforests of Australia and Tasmania, and the green color helps it in disguise;
- pale blue rosella. Perhaps the most not beautiful subspecies of a parrot. Unlike brightly colored counterparts, this parrot looks very unsightly. Its back is covered with black feather with a pale yellow edging, a light blue head and the same abdomen. Only red tail feathers add piquancy to the color;
- yellow-cheeked rosella. The smallest and most beautiful parrot of the species. An adult reaches 25-27 centimeters, but the bird has a very bright plumage. A green back with a black border, a red head, breast and abdomen and yellow spots on the cheeks make the parrot very elegant. Quite often, this bird is bred in captivity, as its small size allows the parrot to feel great in ordinary cages.
Where does rosella live?
Rosella, like many other exotic birds, is native to Australia. For a long time, this continent was cut off from the rest of the land, and this was the reason for the creation of a unique ecological system. In the last hundred years, birds have been released on several more islands, but only the Tasman Islands, whose climate is very similar to Australia, have taken root.
Birds prefer to settle in the savanna, on the edges of wild forests or in the Australian bush (large areas covered with tall shrubs). Rosella wings are not adapted for long flights, and therefore they do not mix over long distances, preferring to spend their whole lives in the same territory. Rosella compensates for not being able to fly long distances with the ability to move quickly on the ground and even live in abandoned rabbit holes.
After people began to actively explore the Australian bush, parrots began to settle in parks and even in small gardens around cottages. Thanks to the intelligence of birds and their peaceful nature, parrots get along well with people and are absolutely not embarrassed by their presence.
Rosella breed well in captivity, live well at home, and the main requirements for their maintenance is high temperature. Birds are very thermophilic and frankly feel bad if the air temperature drops below +15 degrees.
What does rosella eat?
By and large, the Rosella diet is no different from that of any other parrot. The difference is that Rosella spends most of the day on the ground, which means that the main food of the bird is plant seeds, cereals and young shoots.
Parrots are happy to eat:
- fresh vegetables;
- fruits with a high sugar content;
- grains and seeds (including agricultural plants);
- young plants;
- for better digestion, parrots swallow small pebbles or small limestone shells.
Rosella are good hunters. They are happy to eat insects and caterpillars that harm plants. Therefore, farmers never drive parrots from the fields, knowing that they are useful. If the bird is kept at home, then other food is needed in addition to the standard food for parrots.
Without fail, roselle must be given cottage cheese, boiled eggs, as these products are excellent sources of calcium. Birds love bananas, juicy pears and apples. But with white bread you need to be careful. Parrots eat it well, but the amount eaten must be limited, as it can cause fermentation in the stomach and cause rosella to die.
It is extremely important not to limit rosella in water. Unlike finches, parrots cannot go without fluid for several days and must only have access to clean drinking water.
Now you know how to care for and how to feed rosella. Let's see how a parrot survives in the wild.
Character and lifestyle features
Rosellas are flocking birds living together in small groups of 20-30 individuals. Birds are very friendly and cheerful, quickly adapt to changing conditions and are able to live in close proximity to humans. Rosellas are quite smart, careful and capable of coordinating actions.
Birds spend both day and night together. Birds also fly out in large groups to obtain food. Only for the nesting period, the birds disassemble into pairs, but continue to remain in close proximity to each other. It often happens that 2-3 parrot nests fit on an area of several square meters.
Rosella builds nests between tree branches at a height of 5-7 meters from ground level. It is not uncommon for parrots to occupy holes in trees or even free rabbit holes on the ground. Despite the fact that parrots live in flocks in the wild, at home they quickly adapt to life alone, willingly make contact with humans and are able to learn to sit on their shoulders.
This type of bird is able to learn several words, but more readily and quickly, rosellas remember often repeating mechanical sounds and simple melodies that they hear many times a day. There are cases when rosellas skillfully imitated the sound of a running engine or a ringtone on a smartphone.
Social structure and reproduction
Parrots have nesting periods in October-November. At this time, there is enough water in the Australian bush, and birds can breed without fear of a sudden drought. The male touchingly cares for the female. He performs mating dances, puffs up his feathers and emits melodic trills.
Also, the male offers the female a treat (usually these are caught insects), and if she accepts the offering, then a stable pair is formed. Both parents build the nest. As mentioned above, the nest can be arranged not only between the branches of a tree, but also in hollows, and even in holes.
For the construction, dry twigs and tufts of grass are used, and the inside of the nest is lined with fluff, moss and feathers. As a rule, 4-8 eggs appear in the nest, and their number depends not only on the fertility of the female, but also on climatic conditions. In a dry year, there are fewer eggs than in a rainy one.
Hatching eggs takes 25 days, after which chicks appear, covered with dark fluff. Only a month later, the chicks leave the nest, but for several more weeks they remain with their parents and master the science of life in a large flock.
An interesting fact: Both during the incubation of eggs and during the growth of chicks, only the male is engaged in the search for prey. For two months, he feeds both the female and the offspring. During this period, rosella males are especially active in catching insects and often, the total weight of prey per day is equal to the weight of the bird itself.
Puberty occurs in parrots by 15 months, after which they are able to to form a pair and bring new offspring.
Rosella's natural enemies
Rosella has enough enemies in the wild. This is due to the fact that the bird is not capable of long flights and does not feel very dexterous in the air. The danger is also added by the fact that Rosella often settles in burrows, which makes the nest accessible to terrestrial predators. The greatest threat to rosella is winged predators. The bird often becomes a prey for hawks, which easily catch such clumsy prey.
However, the main enemies of the parrot can be considered:
- large carnivorous snakes;
- winged predators.
Nests located on the ground or in a tree at a low height are most threatened. It is not difficult for snakes to climb to a height of several meters and feast on eggs or chicks. In turn, lizards can only reach rosella nests, which are located at a height of no more than a couple of meters.
Even domestic cats can be a threat. Cats can catch a gaping adult and do not deny themselves the pleasure of ruining the masonry or dine on chicks. But human activity practically does not annoy the birds.
Even if people's houses approach the nesting places of birds, this factor does not bother the parrots at all. It is not uncommon for rosellas to live in parks and orchards, a few meters from apartment buildings.
Population and species status
It should be said right away that roselle, as a bird species, is not threatened. In Australia, this is one of the most common varieties of parrots, and even active human activity does not cause any particular inconvenience to birds.
Currently, in Australia there are about 500 thousand parrots of this species, which feel great almost throughout the continent, with the exception of the most arid areas. Under favorable conditions, rosellas are able to produce 2 offspring per year, which reduces the likelihood of their extinction to zero. About 100,000 more birds live in the Tasman Islands, the population of which is also maintained at the same level.
Several attempts have been made to release parrots in California and Florida, but the birds have not been able to create a significant population there. According to scientists, in 2017, no more than a few thousand rosellas live in the United States, and their number is not increasing. Scientists attribute this to an unusual food supply and high competition with other birds.
In addition, a large number of birds live in all zoos in the world and even in the homes of bird lovers. And although rosellas are somewhat picky in choosing a pair, breeding them in captivity is not a big deal. In the event of a threat to the population, it will be possible to quickly restore it by breeding the necessary number of individuals in captivity.
Rosella is a beautiful and intelligent parrot. Birds look equally harmonious both in their natural habitat and in a large cage at home. These birds are distinguished by excellent adaptability, phlegmatic character and high intelligence. With due patience, they can be taught to sit on the shoulder and follow the person.