Pale-headed Rosella

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Is the Pale-headed Rosella right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Mealy Rosella; Mealy Parakeet; Moreton Bay Rosella; Moreton Bay Parakeet; Blue Rosella; White-headed Rosella; Blue-cheeked Rosella

Scientific name: Platycercus adscitus

The basics:
The Pale-headed Rosella is a fairly popular aviary bird, well-liked in its Australian home because it's hardy and beautiful. There are many reports that this species is feisty, aggressive, and doesn't care about human company, so it's most often kept as an ornamental beauty in the aviary, rather than a touchable pet in the home. There is a great deal of color variation within this species, so it can present an entertaining challenge for the hobby breeder.

This Australian endemic species is found in the northeastern part of the continent, where it makes use of a variety of partly open habitats up to 700 meters. It's a common bird considered easy to view in the wild.

The Pale-headed Rosella is a slim, colorful parakeet. The more widely encountered subspecies, P. a. palliceps, lives up to the nickname of “Blue Rosella” with its blue wings, breast, belly, and tail, contrasted with a bright red vent and yellowish head. Occasionally, you may find the nominate subspeces, P. a. adscitus, which has a yellow rump, instead of a blue one.

95 - 120 grams (3.4 - 4.2 oz.)

Average size:
30 centimeters (12 oz.)

15 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
The active, energetic Blue-headed Rosella makes a fine display in the properly equipped aviary, but it has a poor reputation as a single pet. There are many reports of this species reverting to its wild nature and becoming quite aggressive or nippy toward owners.

Do not consider the Blue-headed Rosella without a plan for what happens if your pet reverts to its wild nature. 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 Blue-headed Rosella may be perfect for you. But if you're looking for a lifelong shoulder bird, you should almost certainly look elsewhere.

A pair of Pale-headed 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 Pale-headed 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 Pale-headed Rosella 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 Pale-headed 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

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