I think the Eastern Rosella would have to be one of our most colourful birds. Surprisingly enough, if it wasn’t for all their chatter, they blend into green leaves very well. Reasonably common in the bush, they seem to be more common in gardens these days.
They nest in hollows and with a lot of habitat destroyed in city areas, it is great to be able to replicate their nesting areas with boxes. As you can see from some of the photos in this post, they don’t mind them at all. We have had great success putting boxes around the place and love to see new young each year.
The eastern rosella was named by George Shaw in 1792. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the pale-headed rosella . The term ‘white-cheeked rosella’ has been used for a species or superspecies combining the pale-headed and eastern forms. Hybrids of the two taxa have been recorded where their ranges meet in northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland. However, a mitochondrial study published in 2017 found that the eastern rosella was the earlier offshoot of the lineage that split into the pale-headed and northern rosellas, and that nonsister taxa were hence able to hybridise.
The eastern rosella is 30 cm (12 in) long. It has a red head and white cheeks. The beak is white and the irises are brown. The upper breast is red and the lower breast is yellow fading to pale green over the abdomen. The feathers of the back and shoulders are black, and have yellowish or greenish margins giving rise to a scalloped appearance that varies slightly between the subspecies and the sexes. The wings and lateral tail feathers are bluish while the tail is dark green. The legs are grey. The female is similar to the male though duller in colouration and has an underwing stripe, which is not present in the adult male. Juveniles are duller than females and have an underwing stripe. The diet of eastern rosellas mainly consists of fruit, seeds, flowers and insects.
Distribution and habitat
The natural range of the eastern rosella is eastern Australia, including Tasmania. The species is found in lightly wooded country, open forests, woodlands, gardens, bushlands and parks.
Eastern rosellas usually breed in spring but if needed summer as well. They can have 2–9 eggs. In the wild their breeding hollow is 1 metre (3 ft) deep and 30 metres (98 ft) high up a tree. The sign the eastern rosella mostly shows that they would be breeding is that they give food to each other.