Crimson Rosella

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Is the Crimson Rosella right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Pennant's Rosella; Yellow Rosella (P. e. flaveolus)

Scientific name: Platycercus elegans

The basics:
The Crimson Rosella, particularly the deep-red subspecies, is a stunning aviary classic. Because it's hardy, independent, and easy to breed, it became a breeder's favorite from the early days of aviculture. As a personal pet, it gathers decidedly mixed reviews, with many people reporting that their birds revert to wild behavior no matter what they try. If you're looking for a decorative species that isn't too loud and doesn't demand much, if any, hand-holding, the Crimson Rosella may be your bird. It is not for the person seeking a devoted companion or a world class talker.

The Crimson Rosella is endemic to Australia, although it has now been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. They seem to like a moister climate, which restricts them to the east and southeast of mainland Australia, but they are bold birds that are easy to view from the road or busy hiking trail. They also enjoy suburban parks and gardens. The Yellow Rosella is not nearly as common as the redder subspecies and may have been displaced in some areas by irrigation projects that drained their rivers.

A beautiful grass parakeet widely admired for its fine feathers.This diverse species is notable for its six subspecies and at least one naturally occurring hybrid. Colors run the gamut from the true deep red of the nominate subspecies, P.e.elegans, to the Yellow Rosella, P. e. flaveolus, occasionally placed in its own species but which really seems to be a Crimson Rosella with yellow in all the places you'd expect red. Distinguishing the various subspecies and hybrids is not a job for a short article or for a beginner. Your best source of information is your breeder and any other contacts you can make through your local bird club or breeder's association.

115 - 170 grams (4 - 6 oz.)

Average size:
36 centimeters (14 in.)

10 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
All parrots are individuals, and there are reports of gentle, pet-quality Crimson Rosellas who even learn to say a few words, although they are much more likely to whistle. Some hand-fed young birds, if they are handled and played with every day, maintain their pet quality. However, some hand-fed birds become even more aggressive than the parent-raised birds, perhaps because they have no fear of humans. They are notorious for being aggressive to other birds and for biting their humans.

Have a plan for what happens if your pet reverts to its wild nature when it gets older. Do you have enough room to provide it with a flight where it can be admired for its beauty and get healthy exercise? If you can appreciate a beautiful creature who doesn't wish to be handled by you or anybody else, then the independent, somewhat fiesty Crimson Rosella may be perfect for you. But if you're looking for a lifelong shoulder bird, you're taking a huge chance if you choose a Crimson Rosella.

A pair of Crimson Rosellas is usually housed in a large, walk-in aviary, with appropriate protection in place to screen against disease-bearing mosquitoes and larger pests such as raccoons, opossums, or rats. They aren't considered a species that cares much about toys, but they will appreciate appropriate perches spaced to allow them plenty of room to fly. They are extremely aggressive and shouldn't be asked to share the flight with any other birds. A webcam monitoring set-up, along with the appropriate locks, should deter thieves.

Before you choose a Crimson Rosella as a household pet, you may want to take a realistic look at how much room you have. With their long graceful tails and their desire to exercise by flying rather than by playing with toys, you should probably be prepared to supply a long flight that dominates a large room. If your bird remains tame, you can probably get away with a powder-coated metal cage 36”w x 24”d x 36”h with no more than ½” bar spacing, with differently sized perches placed to encourage flying the length of the cage. If the bird does revert to being an aloof, wild beauty who prefers to be looked at but not touched, then you should offer a much longer flight. You may need to consider having the proper flight custom-built.

The Crimson Rosella, like many of the classic birds from the early days of aviculture, is not terribly tricky to feed. If your birds were brought up to enjoy a high-quality commercial pellet, then stick with it, while adding a chopped salad heavy in vegetables on the side. If your birds are from a more traditional background, then offer the best quality seed you can. One successful breeder recommends leaving the small seed mix in front of the birds at all times, so that they won't focus too much on the tasty large fatty seeds like sunflower. Again, you should provide regular servings of chopped salad. It is highly advisable to routinely sprout some of the seed and offer the soft, sprouted seed. Green millet sprays are an excellent treat.

A pet Crimson Rosella may be willing to join you at dinner for a more varied diet, but never allow any parrot to try foods that are toxic to them, such as avocado, chocolate, undercooked poultry or fish, or alcoholic beverages. A pair of aviary birds should be given a richer diet during the breeding season, with daily servings of the fresh vegetables, soaked seeds, and high quality pellets.

Written by Elaine Radford


elegant bird, curious nature, bright red color, aviary, beauty


big cageaviary, loud calls, attention, constant supervision, birdcage


common color variation, good seed blend

Crimson Rosella Health Tip

Crimson Rosella

From OzziePete Feb 17 2013 6:57PM


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