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Crimson Rosella - BirdForum Opus

Adult nominate subspecies
Photo © by Bluewren
Victoria, Australia, 15 October 2005
Platycercus elegans

Includes: Yellow Rosella, Adelaide Rosella


Adelaide Rosella, subspecies Adelaidae
Photo © by peterday
Private garden, Normanville, South Australia, 9 January 2016

32-36 cm (12½-14¼ in)

  • Crimson body plumage
  • Blue cheeks
  • Black back and wing coverts, edged with red
  • Blue edged flight feathers
  • Tail blue above, pale blue undertail


  • Blue cheeks
  • Green-olive to yellow olive body plumage (occasionally red in some areas).


Crimson Rosella subspecies P. e. nigrescens is smaller and darker.
Yellow Rosella has the crimson areas replaced with light yellow and the tail more greenish.
Adelaide Rosella is intermediate in colour, ranging from yellow with a reddish wash to dark orange.

Similar Species

Juvenile Adelaide Rosella, subspecies Adelaidae
Photo © by peterday
Private garden, Normanville, South Australia, 9 January 2016

Male Australian King Parrot is lacks blue cheeks, shoulders, and tail. It also has a red bill and pale eye. Immature Crimson Rosellas also differ from female and immature King Parrots by having blue cheeks, a whitish bill and a more yellow-green colouring.


Australia: found in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria. Introduced to New Zealand.


Yellow Rosella and Adelaide Rosella formerly considered to be separate species but now usually included in this species. Molecular studies have found P. e. nigrescens to be more distant than any of the others.


Yellow Rosella
Photo © by qiubird
Albury, Murray region, Australia, September 2004

Seven subspecies are recognised by Clements[1]:

  • P. e. nigrescens:
  • P. e. filewoodi:
  • East central Queensland
  • P. e. elegans:
  • Eastern Australia (south-eastern Queensland to south-eastern South Australia)
  • P. e. melanopterus:
  • Kangaroo Island

Yellow Rosella

  • P. e. flaveolus:
  • Interior se Australia (Murray-Murrumbidgee river systems)

Adelaide Rosella

  • P. e. subadelaidae:
  • Southern South Australia (s Flinders Range)
  • P. e. adelaidae:
  • Southern South Australia (Mt. Lofty Range to Fleurieu Peninsula)


Photo © by Paddyob
Near Ballarat, Australia, 28 January 2010

Coastal and mountain euclypt and wet forest.



They eat the seeds of various trees, including native pines, blue fig, acacia and eucalyptus. Also grasses and shrubs, as well as insects and some tree blossoms. They also are readily attracted to bird seed trays.


Using a tree hollow, the nest is lined with wood shavings and dust . The clutch contains 4-8 white eggs which are incubated by the female for about 20 days; both sexes care for the young. The young fledge after about 35 days, but depend on their parents for a further 35 days.


Very vocal (often while feeding), with range of calls, the commonest being a two-syllable cussik-cussik. They also have a range of harsh screeches and metallic whistles.


Nomadic movements reported in winter at edges of range, but generally sedentary.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Australian Museum
  3. Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/54510 on 18 December 2019).
  4. Joseph, L., Dolman, G., Donnellan, S., Saint, K.M., Berg, M.L. & Bennett, A.T.D. (2008) Where and when does a ring start and end? Testing the ring-species hypothesis in a species complex of Australian parrots. Proc. Roy. Soc. London (Ser. B Biol. Sci.) 275: 2431ñ2440.
  5. Eastwood, J.R. et al. (2014) Phylogenetic analysis of beak and feather disease virus across a host ring-species complex Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 201403255; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1403255111

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