Western Rosella Click to enlarge image
Western Rosella Image: Paul Balfe
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Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    icterotis
    Genus
    Platycercus
    Family
    Psittacidae
    Order
    Psittaciformes
    Class
    Aves
  • Size Range
    25 cm to 30 cm

The Western Rosella is the only rosella with yellow cheek patches; others have white or blue patches.

Identification

The Western Rosella is the smallest of rosellas. The head, neck and underbody of males are mostly red, while those of females and juveniles are mottled red. The cheek patch is yellow or cream. There are two subspecies which vary by: (1) the size and colour of the cheek patch (creamier and smaller in xanthogenys), (2) the colour of the scalloping on upper body (green and black, with red only on the hindneck for icterotis; red and black for xanthogenys), and (3) the extent of red on the underbody. The two subspecies may interbreed, with varying colour on the back. The flight is light and fluttery and less undulating than in other rosella species. This species is also known as the Yellow-cheeked or Stanley Rosella.

Habitat

Western Rosellas are found in open eucalypt forest and timbered areas, including cultivated land and orchards. The nominate icterotis is found in high rainfall areas and the other subspecies, xanthogenys, in drier woodland, with a heath understorey.

Distribution

The Western Rosella is only found in the south-west of Western Australia. There are two sub-species, with the nominate, icterotis, confined to the south-west coast, and the other, xanthogenys, found in the wheat belt.



Feeding and diet

Western Rosellas mainly eat the seeds of grasses and other plants, as well as fruits, flowers, insects and their larvae.They feed on the ground, in the foliage of trees and shrubs, in open areas of pasture, on roadsides, golf courses, stubble paddocks and on spilt grain.

Other behaviours and adaptations

It is usually seen in pairs or small parties. However, it is quiet and easily overlooked.

Communication

High pitched, ringing 'quink, quink, quink, quink' and a softer ' whip-a-whee'.

Breeding behaviours

Western Rosellas choose a nest hollow in a limb or tree trunk, usually one metre or more deep, with wood dust in the bottom. They may even nest in a hollow stump or post. The female incubates the eggs, leaving the nest in the morning and late afternoon to be fed by the male.

Breeding Season: August to December.

Economic impacts

Western Rosellas may damage fruit in orchards and were earlier killed as vermin. They are now protected from destruction, except with a special licence. They are possibly declining in the wheat belt from loss of woodland.