Breeding (in the wild and aviculture)
The Western Rosella (Platycercus icterotis) is also known as the Stanley Rosella, Earl of Derby's parakeet or Yellow-cheeked parakeet.
It is the smallest species of rosella and is indigious to the coastral areas of South-western Australia.
Western Rosellas average 25 - 26 cm or 10 inch in length - including the long tail.
This Rosella has a vividly colorful plumage. The head, breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts are red. The chin, cheeks and lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head) are yellow. The nape and back feathers are black with green edging; also partially with red edging in some older birds, The shoulder feathers are black becoming green towards tips. The inner median wing-coverts are black. The edge of wing and outer median wing-coverts and under wing-coverts are violet-blue. Secondary-coverts are green with violet-blue outer webs. Secondaries (shorter, upper "arm" feathers) are green with narrow greenish-blue edging to outer feathers. The outer webs are bright violet-blue at base of primaries and primary wing feathers. The lower back and upper tail-coverts are green. The upperside of the middle tail-feathers are dark green. The outer tail-feathers are pale blue with dark blue base and pale tips. The tail underside was pale bluish. The bill is light greyish-horn color. They have a narrow periophthalmic ring that is grey to dark grey. The irises are dark brown and the feet are greyish-brown.
The hen's plumage is a duller red. Her breast, upper abdomen, crown, nape and lower cheeks are green with broad dull red edging. Her back is dull black, each feather broadly edged with green. The outer middle wing-coverts are green tinged violet-blue. The secondary-coverts and outer secondaries have less violet-blue to the outer webs. The outer webs at base of primaries and primary wing feathers are dull violet-blue. Her lower back and upper tail-coverts are green. The upperside of the middle tail-feathers are dull dark green. The outer tail-feathers are pale blue with dark green base and pale tips. The whitish under wing-stripe is present.
Immatures are mainly green to olive-green and with orange-red feathers on forehead, breast, abdomen and umder tail-coverts. Young males have more red, particularly breast feathers, which are orange-red. The yellow cheek patch is mostly absent. The light under wing-stripe is present. Young birds 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.
Mutations / Colors: In aviculture, many beautiful mutations have occurred. Please visit this website for photos.
In their natural habitat, they mostly feed on grass and tree seeds, flowers and various fruits.
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 and 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.
Reproduction in their natural habitat
In their natural habitat, the breeding season is influenced by rainfall as well as the location of their home range.
The breeding season usually starts in March or April (in Australia from September through March)..
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 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.
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.
- Rosellas are known for their loud, screeching voices (although vocalizing less frequently than some other parrot species) and tendency to be heavy chewers. They may become nippy as well, if not well socialized. They are not amongst the best talkers.
- Parrots generally present challenges, such as excessive screaming or chewing - especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage" and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established. Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. They regard anything in your home as a "toy" that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable. Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
- Web Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.
Scientific: Platycercus icterotis icterotis ... English: Western Rosella, Yellow-cheeked Rosella ... Dutch: Stanley Rosella, Geelwang Rosella ... German: Stanleysittich ... French: Rosella Stanley de qouest
Sub-Species / Races Including Nominate: icterotis, xanthogenys
Species: Scientific: Platycercus icterotis xanthogenys ... English: Red-backed Western Rosella ... Dutch: Roodrug Stanley Rosella ... German: Rotrücken Stanleysittich ... French: Rosella de Salvador
Description: As icterotis, but with paler cheek patch; nape, back, and shoulder feathers black with broad brownish-grey and red edging; lower back and upper tail-coverts olive-grey; middle tail-feathers dull dark blue with little or no dark green tingeing. Female as icterotis, but much paler; nape, back and shoulder feathers dark grey with broad brownish-grey edging; lower back and upper tail-coverts olive-grey. Immatures as described for nominate form, but mainly olive-grey; back and wing edging pale grey ... Length: 26 cm (10 ins)
Distribution: The interior of south-western Australia
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson