All Colours of the Rainbow
Australia is home to many species of vibrantly coloured rosella, including Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Western Rosellas, Northern Rosellas, Pale-headed Rosellas, Yellow Rosellas, Adelaide Rosellas and Green Rosellas. So there is probably a rosella or two near you!
Rosellas are often spotted on rooftops, in trees and on fences. So next time you are on your verandah or in the backyard, have a listen out for their distinctive calls.
These birds are popular visitors to picnics and are a common sight in some lucky Australian suburbs.
The Crimson Rosella lives in eastern Australia. It is probably the most famous rosella, with its red, blue and black colouring. It makes a ‘cussik-cussik’ call.
You can help look after Rosellas in your Backyard
You might see a rosella in your backyard foraging in the leaf litter for insects or drinking the nectar out of native flowers. Rosellas love to eat seeds, fruits, nuts, flowers, buds, shoots, nectar, insects and insect larvae.
Rosellas are great to have around the backyard, as they will eat up bugs and help pollinate the flowers they drink nectar from. They are a pretty sight and interesting to watch as they fly around your garden and up in the treetops.
Be a Backyard Buddy
Get to know the different kinds of rosellas.
A few species of Rosella share some overlapping territories, so how can you tell what rosella
you’re looking at? A good place to start is their cheek patches.
There are generally three types of cheek colouring: white, yellow and blue. The Northern, Pale-headed and Eastern Rosellas have white cheeks, the Western Rosellas have yellow cheeks, and the Green, Crimson, Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas have blue cheek patches.
Rosella groups often gather in trees and shrubs to feed or rest during the day. So if you are lucky enough you might spot a family.
- Drinking nectar out of native flowers.
- Foraging on the ground in search of grubs and other insects.
- Cooling off in a creek or bird bath on a hot summer’s day.
But they don't like:
- Cats or other predators such as larger birds.
- Shrubs that have been sprayed with pesticides.
- Rubbish that has been left lying around. Rosellas can be curious birds around picnics and may chew on something that can harm them.
Be a Buddy to Rosellas
- Keep your cat indoors, especially at night when birds are sleeping, or install a cat enclosure so your cat can go outside safely.
- Plant plenty of native flowering plants that rosellas can feed on. Rosellas love wattles, eucalypts, callistemons, banksias, grevilleas, melaleucas and other local native plants which produce seeds or fruits. Pultenea and other pea flowers produce seeds which rosellas like to eat.
- If you don’t have any large trees in your backyard create a nesting box to provide shelter for rosellas. You can find some information on making your own nest box at these sites: Indian Myna Action, Oz Box, or you can enquire at Nest Boxes Enviro Nest to purchase one.
- Leaving rubbish behind at picnics, rosellas might mistake your rubbish for a tasty piece of fruit!
- Removing large old trees, rosellas often make nests within tree hollows.
- Using pesticides on shrubs that rosellas feed on.
Don't be surprised if Rosellas:
- Bob their heads and fan their tails. This is a courtship display used to impress and find a mate.
- Are seen in flocks of around 30 birds.
- Rip bark off trees in search of grubs and other insects that may be hiding underneath.
A few more Rosellas facts
- The Arnott’s Rosella sits on a T-shaped perch and has been seen on thousands of tins and wrappers in its over one hundred year history. It is a depiction of the phrase, ‘Polly wants a cracker’, and is said to be based on a Mexican parrot. But did you know that this famous image is also a word puzzle? It is said to go as follows - ‘On this T the best polly I see,’ which is the Arnotts company motto: ‘Honesty is the best policy’.
- Rosellas nest in tree hollows lined with wood shavings and soft leaves, and appropriate nest boxes if they can find them.