Of all native Australian birds used as pets the rosellas are amongst the most sought after. This is due to their wonderful variety of colouring, their size and their unique markings. Their scalloped feather markings on the back is what makes them unique in the avian world. There are several different species of rosella, all of them unique in their own way, and they all have similar requirements when used in aviculture.
Common in all rosellas is the scalloped pattern to the feathers on the back and all have distinctive cheek patches. A very colourful and medium sized parrot native to Australia and the surrounding islands. On the Australian mainland these colourful birds tend to inhabit areas of farmland, woodland, forests and suburban gardens and parks, in the coastal mountains and plains but not the outback. Specific breeds tend to inhabit a particular area. Most species of rosella live in large flocks in the wild but not all.It is commonly held that their name originates from the area of Australia in which they were first noticed by early pioneers, the Rose Hill area of Sydney.
The most common species appear to be: Western Rosella – smallest of the species with two subspecies itself and is found in south west Australia. Crimson Rosella – five subspecies and inhabiting east and south east Australia. Green Rosella – the largest species and native to Tasmania. Pale-headed Rosella – two subspecies and found in the eastern part of Australia. Eastern Rosella – three subspecies and although native to the eastern area of the country they are found in many regions including Tasmania and have been introduced to New Zealand where feral populations can be found. Northern Rosella – mainly found in the north as the name suggests but can also be seen in open savanna country and a few other areas, this one is also more likely to be found in small groups or just in pairs in the wild. All these are popular as pets.
An aviary is the best option when keeping rosellas in captivity as this ensures an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible. If an aviary is not an option then they will do OK in cages, as long as the cage is adequately large enough for their requirements. They will need to have regular exercise outside the cage however and should get the opportunity to have a fly around. These birds are not usually talkers and will mainly chirp & squawk, although they could learn a few unique sounds or the odd whistle. A single rosella will form a very strong bond with its owner.
An important warning with regards to keeping rosellas:
They are best kept alone or in pairs as they can be very aggressive towards each other if a lot are enclosed together, a strange thing about captive ones this is as they tend to live mainly in flocks in the wild. Whether kept in aviary or cage try to only have no more than two, and ensure they are of the same species subfamily. These birds will fight to the death in captivity if different sub-species are allowed access to each other, so make certain that if keeping more than one type of rosella to separate the different sub-species by housing in separate aviaries or cages. If the aviaries are connected together you must at the very least double-mesh so as these birds cannot get any physical contact. Beautiful birds yes, they do have these requirements however, but they are easily achievable.
Most bird keepers will suggest that rosellas are not to be kept in a mixed aviary with other types of birds because of their aggressive nature. This may be so but I have in the past kept a pair of Eastern Rosellas (golden-mantled rosellas) in the same mixed aviary with budgies, cockatiels, grass parakeets and kakarikis and have had no problems, the rosellas tended to keep themselves to themselves and do their own thing. It would be best to get advice from an avian professional if unsure.
To summarise there are several types of rosella available to the bird keeper, but their demand can often lead to having to pay a substantial fee in order to purchase any. Their physical appearance however is well worth the expense.