The Eastern Rosella Parakeet
by Orlando Bonnici
The family of the Rosella’s Parakeets is quite widespread across our islands. I have encountered a large number of breeders who are fascinated by the colours and the personality of this parakeet. Rosellas come in different sizes and colours and they are very prone to interbreed across the different species. I would not suggest to allow breeding between the different species as colours tend to lose their vigour and unhealthy offsprings may be created. Rosellas also tend to breed with other species such as the Red-rumps, but again here I do not suggest this to be allowed.
The Rosella family are one of the most beautifully coloured birds we find in our aviculture. The head and the chest are red, the cheeks are white, the bottom of the chest is yellow, the abdomen is light green, the rump is light blue. Scapulars are black, the outside edges of the flight feathers and wing coverts are blue, the side tail feathers are light blue. The bill is white-gray. The eyes are dark brown. The females are as beautifully coloured but their colours are duller than the males. Sexing in rosellas can be a bit difficult. The head and the chest of the female are less red than the male. She has a white stripe under the wing. Females may be very colorful. They can also be told by the width of the bill basis and of the head.
Like all other species kept in captivity, a diet based only on seeds is not enough for rosellas. They need a backup of vitamins, greens and fruits in order to grow healthy and produce healthy offsprings. Fruits such as apple and banana, calcium and vitamin supplements, boiled carrots and spinach, eggfood and soaked bread should be given as an extra source of vitamins needed for reproduction.
Rosellas are easy to breed and not very shy. They are robust, do not fear cold but need a dry shelter. The reproduction season usually starts in March or April. They nest in a wooden nest, high above the ground. Fill it with chips or turf. The female lays 5 to 6 eggs, that she incubates alone for about 21 days. The chicks hatch with a white down. Do not place two couples in a single aviary, on in two contiguous aviaries, nor with other rosellas for they may be aggressive. You can provide them with willow or fruit tree branches for they like chewing. This Rosella may feed another parrot chick, if the young(s) put in their nest is of the same size as their own. The song of the male is a kind of melodious whistle. The female shouts rather briefly.
The Eastern Rosellas are strong flyers that need as much room as you can possible give to them. An aviary as large as possible is strongly recommended for these birds. They have a fascinating undulated flight which is uniquely beautiful. Rosellas are good social birds and if there is enough space, one can keep more than a couple in the same aviary. Remember not to crowd your aviary as fights between cocks may occur. Also provide as much nesting boxes as possible so that each couple can have more than one option where to build its nest. The diagram below shows roughly the sizes of what a good Rosella’s nestbox should be. The numbers are in millimetres.
Although very common amongst experienced breeders, rosellas are still relatively expensive when compared to other common parakeets. They sell for about Lm50 per couple which is quite expensive for a young breeder. I suggest that any one interested should first start to get some experience with cheaper parakeets such as the Redrumps or the Bourkes and then only if s/he has a large aviary, move to the rosellas. There are a large varieties of mutation and species of rosellas available and I believe that these birds should be put into any aviary since they add a pinch of beautiful colours into every cage in which they are placed.
Donated by Orlando Bonnici