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Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard: #9 Crimson Rosella

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#9 Crimson Rosella
(Platycercus elegans)

The Crimson Rosella is by far one of the more common or the parrot species to be found in and around Melbourne area. It is distinguishable by its bright crimson/red body, head and back. The feathers on the back are black with red giving the back a speckled appearance. The cheeks are blue and extend under the beak. The outer edge of the wings and tail feathers are also blue with a lighter blue underneath. There are several colour variations of the Crimson Rosella across its range.

The Crimson Rosella can be found from southeast Queensland to South Australia and across to Kangaroo Island and although it tends to frequent the eucalypt forest and wetter areas of tall forests. It can also be found within the suburban area were there are areas of eucalyptus forest.

Predominately a seed feeder it can be found feeding amongst eucalypts chewing the hard seed cases to get at the seed inside. Scattering of leaves and seed cases under trees may be an indication of there presence or that they have been there. They will also forage for seed on the ground and eat the seeds of native and exotic grasses as well as blossom of native trees and shrubs.

As with other parrot species they utilise hollows in trees as a nesting place and line the nest with shavings and dust that are scraped from the nest hollow with their beaks. The female incubates the eggs but both parents share the responsibility of rearing the young.

The Crimson Rosella is another of the birds of urban areas that have adapted to the placement of seed left out for birds. They can often be found making use of this additional source of food. This source of food can result in serious health problems and place them at risk of predation from other animals. Feeding should be avoided due to the potential risks. Follow this link for more information. “Let Wildlife Be Wild”

If you want to attract birds to the garden it is better to provide food in the form of native and preferably indigenous plants that provide natural sources of food. There are several books on the subject of “Birdscaping Your Garden” as well as many nurseries dealing with native and indigenous plants. Some of these are listed below:

Books & Websites:
Adams, George. (2011). Birdscaping Australian Gardens: A Guide to Native Plants and the Garden Birds they attract.

Sustainable Gardens Australia: “SGA Bird Gardening”

Birdlife Australia: “Birdlife Australia”


Many local council’s will often have a list of native/indigenous plant suppliers. Check council websites or contact the environment department at your local council.

© Habitat Ecology 2012