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12

Eastern Rosella

(Platycercus eximius)
Alternate name(s): "White-cheeked Rosella", "Rosehill Parakeet", "Nonpareil Parrot"
Aboriginal name(s): "kuitj kuitj"/"kut kut" [tjapwurrung, western djadjawurrung]

Size: 28-33 cm; wing span 38-47 cm
Weight: 90-125 g

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Eastern Rosella at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "eximius"

ADULT

MALE

Close-up frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella feeding on nectar (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Close-up frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella feeding on seeds (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Near-frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Near-lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella feeding on seeds (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella feeding on nectar (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella feeding on nectar (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Dorsal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Botanical Gardens, Adelaide, SA, April 2022]

Dorsal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of C. Lawrence)
[Canberra, ACT, August 2005]

FEMALE

Lateral portrait of a female(?) Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2020]

Lateral view of a female Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay Doctors Flat Road, East Gippsland, VIC, February 2014]

Race "elecica"

This race is also called the "Golden-mantled Rosella".

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2022]

Near-frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Brunswick Heads, NSW, January 2019]

Near-frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella looking at the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Near-lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Brunswick Heads, NSW, January 2019]

Near-lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2007]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Close-up lateral/ventral view of a male Eastern Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2023]

Dorsal view of a male Eastern Rosella inspecting a nesting box
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Dorsal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Port Macquarie, NSW, January 2021]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2019]

FEMALE

Close-up frontal view of a female Eastern Rosella looking sideways
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Frontal/ventral view of a female Eastern Rosella with its tail fanned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a female Eastern Rosella looking sideways
[Narrabri, NSW, November 2010]

PAIR

Lateral view of a pair of Eastern Rosellas feeding on greens, male on the left
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2021]

Lateral/dorsal view of a soaking wet pair of Eastern Rosellas in the bathtub; male on the left
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2021]

Lateral view of a mixed pair of an Eastern Rosella with a Pale-headed Rosella
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2004]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Rosella
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Rosella feasting on the seeds of a weed (Gomphrena globosa) growing in our lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2012]

Race "diemenensis"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Botanic Garden, Hobart, TAS, March 2016]

Lateral view of a male Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Goulds Lagoon, Hobart, TAS, April 2021]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Dec Eggs: 4 - 5 Incubation period: 19 - 20 days Fledging age: ca. 35 days

In some cases a brood can be up to 8 eggs. In November 2012 we found the first chick of a clutch of four hatched after 19 days.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

The male feeds the female near the nest during the time she is incubating the eggs.

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: Wood Height above ground: 3 - 10(?) m

Female Eastern Rosella in the entrance of a nest box in our garden
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Lateral view of a female Eastern Rosella re-entering its nest box after a short absence
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Lateral view of a female Eastern Rosella re-entering its nest box after a short absence
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 27 x 22 mm Colour: White Shape: Rounded

Four Eastern Rosella eggs in a nesting box in our garden
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

The first tiny Eastern Rosella chick has hatched, three eggs are still intact; the female has not removed all fragments of the first broken egg shell yet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Hybrids

Eastern Rosellas are known to hybridise with Pale-headed Rosellas and with Crimson Rosellas.

Pale-headed Rosella hybrids

Frontal view of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella looking sideways; here the Eastern Rosella influence is dominant
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2024]

Frontal views of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella looking sideways either way
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Near-frontal view of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2022]

Lateral view of a hybrid Pale-headed Rosella checking whether all is clear before approaching a waterhole
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Lateral view of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view onto the back of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella; here the Pale-headed Rosella influence is dominant
[Near Bellata, NSW, February 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile hybrid Eastern/Pale-headed Rosella, with predominantly Pale-headed Rosella heritage
(photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Moree, NSW, April 2013]

Lateral view of a fledgling mix between an Eastern Rosella and a Pale-headed Rosella that has left its nest too soon
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Crimson Rosella hybrids

Lateral view of an Eastern Rosella x Crimson Rosella hybrid (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Near Barraba, NSW, April 2014]

Although not 100% sure, because unable to obtain a photo for identification at the time, we think that we have also spotted a hybrid between a Crimson Rosella and an Eastern Rosella at Girraween NP, QLD, in July 2009.

P. & M. Juers report spotting a hybrid between a Crimson Rosella and an Eastern Rosella at Drouin, VIC (see photo below).

Male hybrid Crimson Rosella/Eastern Rosella with a female Eastern Rosella (photo courtesy of P. & M. Juers)

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair

 

Since, as is the case for many other parrot species, female Eastern Rosellas take on the incubation duties, they rely on the males to feed them. Therefore, males prove their mettle in a bonding ritual, by feeding their partners to earn the right to mate.

Male Eastern Rosella, left, feeding the female, right; this type of behaviour is part of a bonding ritual
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2020]

In the region where their habitats overlap, i.e. northern NSW and southern QLD, Eastern Rosellas and Pale-headed Rosellas can interbreed. The hybrids have intermediate colours (the size and colour of the yellow and red patches on their heads and breasts vary).

Like most other parrots, Eastern Rosellas love taking a bath...

Lateral view of a pair of Eastern Rosellas after a very long soak under a garden sprinkler; in the foreground an as yet much drier Noisy Miner
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

The photos below show that Eastern Rosellas can become very tame.

This is "Christmas", a female Eastern Rosella who decided, on Christmas Day 2009, to live with a human - by landing on his head at 4 am in complete darkness (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, Feburary 2010]

"Christmas" in the bathtub (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, October 2010]

Like other parrots and cockatoos, Eastern Rosellas also like to live in flocks outside the breeding season.

Both Turquoise Parrots and Eastern Rosellas have been found by V. Collins and ourselves in large numbers at a location ca. 20 km NE of Narrabri, NSW, in May 2021. The observations were written up in a short report (PDF).

Food, Diet

Like many parrots, Eastern Rosellas feed primarily on seeds and fruit.

Frontal portrait of a male Eastern Rosella chomping on a eucalypt flower
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2023]

Lateral portrait of a male Eastern Rosella chomping on a eucalypt flower
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2023]

Male Eastern Rosella nibbling on grass seeds (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Brunswick Heads, NSW, January 2019]

Close-up frontal view of an Eastern Rosella reaching for seeds...
[Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

... which explains why there were hardly any seeds left on the tree...
[Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

Lateral/ventral view of a female Eastern Rosella taking seeds of an Acacia salicina
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Near-dorsal view of a male Eastern Rosella nibbling on a prickly seed
[Narrabri, NSW, June 2018]

Eastern Rosellas have also been found to be taking nectar from the flowers of Emubushes and we have seen them nibble on flowers of various types of eucalypt, including e.g. lemon-scented gumtrees.

Close-up near-frontal view of a male Eastern Rosella in a eucalypt infested with psyllids
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2021]

Male Eastern Rosella having a drink of water from a bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2022]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

eastros_20140311.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
eastros_20140313_2.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
eastros_20140110.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
(Partial) contact call © MD
eastros_20170520.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Calling mate(?) © MD
eastros_20140313_3.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
Calling mate(?) © MD
eastros_20220827.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
Arrival © MD
eastros_20240103.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Warning/departure © MD
eastros_20151016.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Alarm/departure © MD
eastros_20181008.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
? (pair) © MD
eastros_20191014.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
? (pair) © MD
eastros_20191014_2.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
? (pair) © MD
eastros_20191014_3.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
? (pair) © MD
eastros_20200329.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
? (arrival) © MD
eastros_20221105.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
? © MD
eastros_20221228.mp3 elecica
(NW NSW)
? © MD
eastros_20180304.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (juvenile) © MD
eastros_20210205.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Begging/feeding calls (juvenile) © MD

We have also been able to record wing beats of Eastern Rosellas.

eastros_20240216.m4a elecica
(NW NSW)
Departure from perch © MD

More Eastern Rosella sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.