Rosellas : favourite Australian birds



By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


The photo of the Eastern Rosella is attributed to J.J. Harrison



Taken by benjamint444. These two attributions are for the photo of the chicks

Crimson Rosellas, the Australian Parrots with scarlet, sky blue and indigo plumage, are a bird that reminds me of childhood, the bush, and the bright flashes of colour in the woodlands that excite imagination. In my childhood years, the rosellas I would have seen were Eastern Rosellas. These have scarlet, yellow, indigo, and green feathers, along with small amounts of white and charcoal, around the edges of the wings. Their beaks are yellowy coloured while the crimson Rosella beaks are ivory, or pale grey.

I love to see a flock of these shy birds alight on the ground. They shuffle and huddle together around the food they have discovered. Memories abound of flocks landing around piles of seed, and pecking quickly, noisily cracking seeds in their powerful beaks. When they flew away, the shape of the fans at the end of their tails, and the graceful curves of their wings were a delight to watch.  On trips to the Warbies, or Grampians, I remember them arriving at the picnic grounds to clean up after the greedier Kookaburras gobbled the sausages and the bulk of the bread. They would peck at the crumbs, and be quickly off if they couldn’t find anything satisfying.

I know that most very young bird chicks are ugly. This lends credence to the theme of the Ugly Duckling, but the startling ugliness of Eastern Rosella chicks takes me aback. They look like very mouldy lumps of a cheese I first tasted in the nineties, pink peppercorn and cheddar, and their beaks look like handles you should use to throw the mess away. There is no doubt Rosella parents see the potential in their offspring. They must make more noise than Magpie chicks seeking to be fed, but I have never knowingly heard them. Something motivates the parents on a day to day basis to help turn their chicks into the handsome birds they become.

It is one of the mysteries of Australia that a land of dull bush in shades of taupe, khaki, brown and grey should be home to birds of such colourful plumage.


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